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

Last week's 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' components were as follows.

We started with a news round up, of interesting and amusing stories.

A 101-year-old Italian man, Giovanni Palmiero, who has been living in London since 1966, was asked to get his parents to confirm his identity by the Home Office after he applied to stay in the country post-Brexit. In what appears to be a computer glitch the Home Office thought he was a one-year-old child and he was told that he needed the presence of his mother and father when he made his application for the EU settlement scheme at an advice centre in Islington, north London.

We all agreed he looked much younger than his years and thought maybe it was the Mediterranean diet and Italian wine which had preserved his youthful looks.

A unique piano which was treasured by the Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt as her “best friend” was broken beyond repair when it was dropped by specialist instrument movers.

The expensive accident happened late last month after Hewitt finished recording Beethoven’s piano variations at a studio in Berlin. In a Facebook post Hewitt said her F278 Fazioli, the only one in the world fitted with four pedals, and worth at least £150,000, was “kaputt”. She said: “I hope my piano will be happy in piano heaven.”

We talked about the stress of moving home and having damaged property at the end of the process.

Next, we looked at this picture from Reuters of the first same sex marriage to take place in Northern Ireland, which has only recently caught up with the rest of the UK in implementing the 'Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act' 2013. Robyn Peoples age 26, a healthcare worker from Carrickfergus, and Sharni Edwards age 27, a waitress originally from Brighton, became the province’s first gay couple to wed, according to the 'Love Equality' campaign group.

The women exchanged their vows in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, on their sixth anniversary as a couple. “This means everything to us. Just to be married. This is my wife. I can finally say this is my wife.”

Then we celebrated the 80th anniversary of 'Tom And Jerry', who were characters created by Hanna and Barbera. We played the opening titles music and all remembered it well. YouTube link here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeAlFwuP7Vw

Next, we looked at this 'Photo Of The Week', of two mice on a deserted London Underground station, fighting over a morsel of food. Sam Rowley had won the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice award' for his epic photograph, which took him a week trying to capture.

This led us to our first song, 'A Windmill In Old Amsterdam (I Saw A Mouse)', by Ronnie Hilton. YouTube link here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fg7w49UnGA

It was then time for some @DadJokeMan jokes ...

My wife tripped and fell while carrying clothes she just ironed. I watched it all unfold...

It’s only one week until pancake day! That really crêped up on me...

I just started a business where we specialise in weighing tiny objects. It’s a small scale operation.

Storm Dennis blew a Lidl bag into my garden. I didn’t want the neighbours to get the wrong idea so I replaced it with a Waitrose bag...

Someone came up to me last night holding a beer and claiming to be a ventriloquist... But I think it was the drink talking...

I write songs about sewing machines. I'm a singer songwriter...

I’ve done a survey on how people walk home from the pub... The results are staggering...

BREAKING NEWS! Thieves broke into WH Smiths last night and stole A4 files, folders, poly pockets and dividers. Police are looking for a gang of organised criminals...

Someone once asked me who I'd most like to be trapped in a lift with. I said, “a lift engineer”.

Our local TV weatherman has reacted angrily after being sacked for giving too many gloomy, frosty weather forecasts. No more mist and ice guy...

My mate Simon has moved away to Ho Chi Minh City.... That's Si gone....

I’ve got a friend who’s got an unhealthy obsession with completing his Beatles collection. He needs Help...

I met a Dalek in the pub who claimed he was from Devon so I asked him “Whereabouts in Devon are you from mate ?” He replied “EXETER MATE ! EXETER MATE !”

And from @tismenic70 ... BREAKING: A van carrying emeralds, rubies and diamonds crashed this morning... Traffic police are telling motorists to avoid the jewel carriageway...

It was confirmed last week that a fifth Indiana Jones movie was to be made. With Harrison Ford now age 77 @ThePoke had poked fun at him with these two images of him potentially in his new movie, one using a zimmer frame (bit ageist?) and one with a bag of Werther's Original toffee.

We remembered Indiana Jones films to date were:

- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

An American woman’s high school class ring, which was lost in Maine in 1973, has been found in a forest in Finland. Debra McKenna lost the item in Portland when she was a student at Morse high school. She said the ring was largely forgotten until a metal detectorist found it buried under 20cm (8in) of soil in a forested Finnish park 47 years later.

The ring belonged to McKenna’s late husband, Shawn, whom she dated throughout high school and college. The couple were married for 40 years until he died in 2017. He gave her the ring before he left for college, and she accidentally left it in a department store. Nobody knows how it got to Finland, or how it got lost there, but the finder Marko Saarinen noticed its inscription “Morse high school” and contacted the school’s alumni association. It identified Shawn as the owner because it also bore the 1973 graduation date and the initials “SM” .

We all agreed this was an amazing find and discussed coincidences which had occurred in our lives.

Millions of pieces of Lego lost at sea 23 years ago are still washing up on Cornish beaches. This photo from CornwallLive.com shows the plastic hardly degraded or discoloured. A shipping container containing the Lego was lost at sea off a Tokyo Express container ship, which had been hit by a huge wave during a storm.

We all agreed that as well as reducing plastic in our food and drink products, we also needed to rethink children's toys.

An artwork that appeared on the side of a house in Bristol has been confirmed as the work of street artist Banksy. The piece features a stencil of a girl firing red flowers made with spray-painted ivy from a catapult. Banksy published a picture of the work on his Instagram page at midnight on Valentine's Day. Kelly Woodruff, whose father owns the property in Barton Hill, said they now wanted to protect the "special" work from the approaching Storm Dennis.

"As it's Valentine's Day, it's really special and to have it in 3D with the flowers is incredible," said 37-year-old Ms Woodruff. Sadly, a couple of days later the painting was vandalised and will now need to be restored.

We discussed what it would be like waking up to find a Banksy painted on your house and agreed it would probably not be worth the hassle of media interest.

Continuing with the theme of 'Valentine's Day', we looked at this film clip of The Red Arrows creating a heart during a display at their home base in RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. The video is linked in the tweet here - https://twitter.com/BBCEngland/status/1228378764796710913?s=20

Many of us had enjoyed watching The Red Arrows at various displays over the years and agreed their collective skill was incredible.

Our next song was 'Love Is In The Air', by John Paul Young. A YouTube ink to the song with lyrics is here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUaIdOsJqF8

Comedian Greg James joked Marks & Spencer this week by complaining that his 'daffodils' purchased at his local store had not flowered. In fact, the items photographed in the vase were asparagus stalks, but this was not recognised by M&S who wrote back - "This is disappointing from us, Greg so I'm really sorry. I'll let our Flower team know and if you can return your receipt or the packaging to store on your next visit then we can refund or replace them for you. Thanks, Donna." (@ThePoke)

@BoredPanda informed us that Finley, a golden retriever from Canandaigua, NY, had broken a world record this week for the number of tennis balls he could get into his mouth (without assistance). We guessed at the number, which was half a dozen. Good boy Finley!

We discussed any 'skills' our own pets had.

Next, we looked at this amazing 6 foot tall sculpture made out of driftwood. Exeter-based artist Brendan Rawlings created the piece to help raise funds for the RNLI. The sculpture, hewed mostly from an old railway sleeper, weighs nearly 13 stone (80kg) and took a week to make. Mr Rawlings plans to tour the angel around beaches in Devon and Cornwall, where he collects the wood, starting in Exmouth on 29 February.

We then came to our 'Story Of The Week'. Two years ago Jonny Brown was in a dark place. Addicted to drugs, he'd lost his house and was sleeping rough. The 33-year-old singer previously with indie band, 'Twisted Wheel', believes he'd always had depression and not realised it. "I sort of turned to the drugs to numb my emotions really," he explained. He sank so low he almost lost his life, overdosing 10 or 11 times. He managed to get 'clean' and started working again, eventually getting his band back together. Then the lucky break came, when Liam Gallagher asked him to support him on the European leg of his tour. "For Liam to give me this chance again it just shows what a great guy he is and how he cares about the music and the real stuff in life," he says. "He's a true guy and it's a reflection of his great character."

We all agreed this showed enormous courage and strength of character on Jonny's part, but also it showed Liam Gallagher in a new positive light. Both were to be celebrated.

Another nice story came from @ThePoke this week. People in the UK have been miserable for some time now, about Brexit, the weather and other things. So when commuters on the London Underground spontaneously joined in with busker Wilfy Williams at Leicester Square station, it was particularly joyous. We watched the video link within the story here -


We all agreed our own experiences of using the London Underground were not as joyous and that it was very unusual, but uplifting, to see people giving anything more than reluctant eye contact in a tube station.

@ClassicFM reminded us that it was 'World Radio Day' this week. We discussed who likes to listen to the radio and which channels we preferred listening to. Responses ranged from Classic FM to Radio 2 to Smooth Radio and 5Live for the sports coverage. Sadly I was the only person in the room to listen to 'The Archers' on Radio 4.

Finally, we discussed the misery and chaos brought by 'Storm Dennis' this week. Several local towns and villages had been badly hit, including Pontypridd, Nantgarw and Radyr. Fortunately, no members had been directly affected. 6.2 inches of rain fell in 48 hours and rivers including the Taff and Wye reached their highest ever level. Gusts of over 90mph were recorded in North Wales. Sadly five people had lost their lives.

We agreed that out of such terrible adversity often comes greatness and it was heartwarming to see communities pulling together and people helping each other out. The Welsh Assembly had also announced emergency funding to support affected families, especially those unable to get insurance because of previous flooding. Several charitable fundraisers had also been started.

It was hard to link to a song after that sad news story without sounding trite, but we all agreed that B.J. Thomas's 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head', from 'Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid' was an uplifting song to sing together. Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT1HCQcSHW0

Our final song, in the hope of better weather to come, was 'Mr Blue Sky', by the 'Electric Light Orchestra'. YouTube video with lyrics linked here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswbT5zfmRE

If you have a news story you would like to see covered in the 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' blog, pleas email me at simondementia@gmail.com