About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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  • Simon O'Donovan

Cariad Dementia Cafe

The Met Office predicted a white Christmas this week. A white Christmas is declared if snow falls on the roof of the Met Office HQ in London.

Discuss with members whether they like the snow?

What memories do people have of playing in the snow? - Tobogganing, snowball fights, making a snowman, making 'snow angels' etc

What about memories as adults? - Getting snowed in, getting stuck in traffic, getting cold and wet, falling over etc

Our first song is Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas'. It is the best selling single of all time. The song was written by Irving Berlin and comes from the 1942 movie 'Holiday Inn'. It was re-made in 1954, with the title 'White Christmas'. This film is the more famous one and starred Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kay and Vera-Ellen.

YouTube link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S-IidmcSN8

Ben Stokes, England all round cricketer, won 'BBC Sports Personality Of The Year' this week. On receiving his award he said, “It’s an individual award but it’s a team sport. The best thing is you get to share big moments with teammates and back-room staff. They make moments like this summer possible. Two years ago was a tough time for me in my life and I had so many people help me through that. I wouldn’t be up here without you, so thanks.”

Greta Thunberg, ecowarrior, was announced as 'Time Magazine Person Of The Year. This was an amazing achievement for a 16 year old. On giving Greta the award, 'Time' said she had almost single-handedly succeeded in turning vague anxieties about the planet into a worldwide movement calling for global change.

Ecologist David Bellamy had sadly died this week, aged 86. 'The Guardian' paid tribute to him, writing that he had "fired the imagination of millions of television viewers with the beauty and complexity of the natural world – and our impact upon it".

It was also announced that Sheila Betty Mercier, who played Annie Sugden in 'Emmerdale' had died this week, aged 100.

The pub in 'Emmerdale' is called 'The Woolpack'. The series is set in the Yorkshire Dales.

Kelvin Fletcher, who played Annie Sugden's grandson in 'Emmerdale', won BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' this week. His dance partner was Oti Mabuse. Their winning Samba dance is linked here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zse156NngA

Maria Carey entered the 'Billboard 100' (US charts) at Number 1 this week, with her song 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. This song came to fame after being used in the 2003 film 'Love Actually', starring Hugh Grant and Martine McCutheon.

This was our next song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ghkHlthIqM

BBC News announced that dairy farmer and self-confessed Christmas enthusiast Becky Houzé had dressed her cows in Christmas jumpers to spread some seasonal cheer to passers-by. The five cows have been sporting the matching knitwear while grazing on their farm in St Saviour, Jersey. What a moo-ving story!

A few Christmas cracker jokes to read out (from @DadJokeMan).

Why was the snowman looking through the carrots?

He was picking his nose!

We got our dogs some “glow in the dark” treats for Christmas.

You should have seen their little faeces light up...

Have you noticed that some herbs taste much better at Christmas?

It's the most wonderful thyme of the year...



'Gone With The Wind' premiered in Atlanta, Georgia 80 years ago this week. The film won 8 Oscars, including Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Picture, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh) and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel).

Clark Gable starred as Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh starred as Scarlet O'Hara.

The homestead was 'Tara'.

Some famous quotes from the film - "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

It was Kirk Douglas' 103rd birthday this week. Some of his best movies were:

- 'Champion', 1949

- 'Ace In The Hole', 1951

- '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea', 1954

- 'Lust For Life', 1956

- 'Paths Of Glory', 1957

- 'Gunfight At The O.K. Corral', 1957

- 'Spartacus', 1960

'Story Of The Week' came from 'The Poke', who retweeted @sixthformpoet (copied verbatim) ...

"My dad died. Classic start to a funny story. He was buried in a small village in Sussex. I was really close to my dad so I visited his grave a lot. I still do. [DON’T WORRY, IT GETS FUNNIER.]

"I always took flowers and my mum visited a lot and she always took flowers and my grandparents were still alive then and they always took flowers. My dad’s grave frequently resembled a solid third place at the Chelsea Flower Show.

"Nice but I felt bad for the guy buried next to my dad. He NEVER had flowers. Died on Christmas Day aged 37, no one left him flowers and now there’s a pop-up florist in the grave next door. So I started buying him flowers. I STARTED BUYING FLOWERS FOR A DECEASED MAN I’D NEVER MET.

"I did this for quite some time, but I never mentioned it to anyone. It was a little private joke with myself, I was making the world a better place one bunch of flowers at a time. I know it sounds weird but I came to think of him as a friend.

"I wondered if there was a hidden connection between us, something secretly drawing me to him. Maybe we went to the same school, played for the same football club or whatever. So I googled his name, and ten seconds later I found him.

"His wife didn’t leave him flowers BECAUSE HE’D MURDERED HER. ON CHRISTMAS DAY. After he murdered his wife, he murdered her parents too. And after that he jumped in front of the only train going through Balcombe tunnel that Christmas night.

"THAT was why no one ever left him flowers. No one except me, of course. I left him flowers. I left him flowers every couple of weeks. Every couple of weeks FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS.

"I felt terrible for his wife and her parents. Now, I wasn’t going to leave them flowers every couple of weeks for two and a half years but I did feel like I owed them some sort of apology.

"I found out where they were buried, bought flowers and drove to the cemetery. As I was standing at their graves mumbling apologies, a woman appeared behind me. She wanted to know who I was and why I was leaving flowers for her aunt and grandparents. AWKWARD.

"I explained and she said ok that’s weird but quite sweet. I said thanks, yes it is a bit weird and oh god I ASKED HER OUT FOR A DRINK. Incredibly, she said yes. Two years later she said yes again when I asked her to marry me because that is how I met my wife."

Earls Hall Baptist Church in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, has hidden 1,000 rocks painted with an image of the baby Jesus around their community and wants finders to post a picture of them on social media. The idea of 'Jesus Rocks', is to bring a little joy by giving people a free Christmas decoration which reminds them of the Christmas story.

This links to the nest song - one of the most famous Christmas carols of all - 'Away In A Manger' (lyrics included) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnwO_0DrpCk

This week's news included the "stonking win" at the polls for Boris Johnson, who has got back into power with a Conservative majority government of 86 seats. The newspapers covered the story with wildly opposing headlines.

Boris' dog is a Jack Russell pup called Dilyn. I wonder how Larry, the 10 Downing Street cat, is coping with this new family member?

So as not to finish on a political story, we looked at this image from 1927 of the real 'Winnie The Pooh' and 'Christopher Robin.

A.A. Milne wrote the 'Winnie The Pooh' stories.

Winnie's friends were Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Owl and Rabbit.

We discussed who had been given a Teddy Bear at Christmas? Who still had their childhood Teddy? We agreed it is a timeless gift.

This linked to our next song, 'Teddy Bears Picnic' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZANKFxrcKU

Staying on the theme of Christmas, well sort of... McDonald's announced it is about to launch a vegan burger, as it's vegetarian range has been so successful. We discussed who is cutting down on meat, or who is a vegetarian or vegan.

We asked who would be eating turkey for Christmas dinner, or would anyone be having a nut roast?

Finally, we looked at the story from @ThePoke, about a 'Bah humbug' neighbour at Number 7 in a street in New Milton, Hampshire, who refuses to decorate his house with Christmas lights. Well, I guess he is saving electricity?

This reminded us of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the 1843 Charles Dickens novel 'A Christmas Carol'.

We remembered the quote from Little Tim, "God bless us one and all" and finished with the hymn from the 1970 Alec Guinness film 'Scrooge' - 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'.

Link here (with lyrics) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlfHyb397VY