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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Cariad Dementia Cafe

'Cariad Dementia Cafe' is a young onset dementia weekly gathering which provides a space for people with a diagnosis and their family, friends and supporters to come together to experience an uplifting and engaging short cognitive stimulation therapy session. There are also opportunities for one to one contact with professional and support staff, should that be necessary. The main aims of the session are enjoyment, engagement and inclusion, through the presentation of a range of media within a supportive setting.

The 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' is open access, available to all known clients and families, and attendance is usually around twelve. The sessions are facilitated by a care coordinator, family support worker and volunteer, with overall coordination provided by a medical secretary.

As the volunteer member of the group, I usually take the lead on bringing the materials together. The two and a half hour session comprises a paper based quiz based activity, a slide show of the week's news and stories (with a focus on positive, interesting or funny items), a few singalong songs with projected lyrics and a physical activity, for example thai chi. We provide the blog pages each week, so others may use the materials we have gathered together and tried and tested in practice.

The components of last week's 'Cariad Dementia Cafe' session were as follows:

'Story Of The Week' was from 'BBC Wales News'.

A retired bus driver has told how he fought off a would-be robber at a cash machine. Grandfather Trevor Weston, 77, got £20 from the machine in Cardiff when the man threatened to stab him. Instead of handing over the cash, Mr Weston put up his fists and said: "Do you want some of this, pal?" South Wales Police is appealing for information about the attack at Sainsbury's in Roath on 5 February, which was caught on CCTV. Mr Weston, from Tremorfa, said he had "never been in a fight in his life" before he fought off the attacker, and police cheered when they watched the footage. Video link here - https://twitter.com/BBCWalesNews/status/1230552801358622720?s=20

We applauded his bravery and commented on the sad fact that incidents like this, though rare, still occur where vulnerable people are targeted. We also discussed the benefits of CCTV and cashless payments.

Another excellent story was spotted in 'The Independent' by one of our members and brought to the session.

A patient at King’s College Hospital in London has played the violin while surgeons operated on her brain to remove a tumour. The medical team asked Dagmar Turner, 53, to play the violin to ensure parts of the brain which control delicate hand movements and coordination were not damaged during the millimetre-precise surgery. Ms Turner, a former management consultant from the Isle of Wight, but now professional violinist was diagnosed in 2013 with a brain tumour after suffering a seizure during a symphony. “The violin is my passion; I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. The thought of losing my ability to play was heartbreaking.” Three days after the procedure Ms Turner was well enough to go home to her husband and son.

We marvelled at the surgeon's precision skill and more to the point wondered what it must have been like for her to be woken and requested to play during surgery!

'The Irish Times' reported that a 'ghost ship' had washed up rocks at Ballycotten, Cork, this week. Its wrecking concludes a lonely trans-Atlantic journey of about 17 months. The unmanned voyage of the Tanzanian flagged 'Alta' began in October 2018. Its 10-strong crew had been adrift in the wild Atlantic for three weeks, unable to make repairs and running out of food, and had to be rescued by the US Coast Guard’s 'Cutter Confidence' about 1,380 nautical miles southeast of Bermuda. Little has been reported about the ship’s activities after this time. One marine source, however, remarks that its ambitious planned voyage from Greece to Haiti – a distance of almost 5,000 nautical miles – was not in keeping with its size and design. Such a boat would usually be engaged in “near continental trade”, a term that refers to boats hugging coastlines in specific areas such as the Mediterranean or Persian Gulf. The following July, long after its crew had been plucked to safety, an unverified report emerged in the Maritime Bulletin suggesting the ship may have been towed toward Guyana in South America before being hijacked and abandoned for a second time.

We wondered who would now have salvage rights? And were reminded of the phrase, "Finders keepers, losers weepers!"

Smokey Robinson was 80 last week. We all agreed he looked great for his age. His 3 Top 10 UK hits were:

- 'The Tracks Of My Tears', 1969 (Number 9)

- 'Tears Of A Clown', 1970 (Number 1)

- 'Being With You', 1981 (Number 1)

We remembered he sang with 'The Miracles' and agreed these were great songs.

Our first singalong was 'Being With You' - link with lyrics here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QyqnrMBUaQ

It was time for some @DadJokeMan jokes ...

My car broke down so I looked under the bonnet and saw a bat sitting on the engine. He said “Hello Sir, you are a handsome man and very nicely dressed too". I could see the problem... Bat flattery!

My window cleaner passed away recently. Just made contact with him again using a squeegee board...

Went to see that new film ‘Broken Leg’ last night... The cast was amazing!

A salesman from a stationery company ‘phoned me and tried to sell me some printer ink but I said ‘No thanks’... I didn’t like his toner voice...

My wife bought a new oven glove in a bright yellow colour. I kept making puns about it, and now she's not talking to me. I probably did take it too far, I mustard mitt...

Another fantastic story this week came from the floods in the Forest Of Dean and was reported by 'BBC News'.

A man has told how he waded into ­floodwater to rescue a woman who had been trapped on the roof of her submerged car for 12 hours. Mark Smith, 51, was alerted to her plight by Geoff Handley, who was walking his dog near St Briavels in the Forest of Dean. The woman, who has not been named, was slipping in and out of consciousness. Mr Smith and Mr Handley rescued her and took it in turns to keep her warm until the emergency services arrived. Mr Smith, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, said "I could hear someone shouting for help. She was half in the car and half in the water. I just pulled her up and cuddled her to keep warm; it seemed like forever and a day. It was a bit worrying, really, I tried to hold her on the car but we kept slipping as the car was totally underwater." There is a video link to the story of their heroic actions here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-51571306

We all agreed these brave men needed to be recognised in the 'New Years Honours List' and that this is the type of outstanding behaviour that medals should be awarded for.

The Bank Of England will introduce a new £20 polymer note this week. It features the face of artist JW Turner and one of his works, 'The Fighting Temeraire' - a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The new note will also be the most secure, with two see-through windows and a two colour foil to help beat forgers. The new £20 is the third plastic banknote to be issued by the Bank of England after the fiver featuring Winston Churchill - launched in 2016 - and the tenner featuring Jane Austen, which was first issued in 2017. The paper notes will remain legal tender for some months to come, but will gradually be withdrawn and replaced.

We all agreed that the new polymer notes were cleaner and stronger than paper notes and if it helped prevent fraud they were a good thing. However, one member had put a polymer note through a wash and tumble dry cycle and it hadn't fared so well!

Our next song was, of course, 'Money, Money, Money', by ABBA. Here is the video link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETxmCCsMoD0

We remembered that the members of ABBA, whose initials gave the group it's name, were Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Their 9 UK number 1s were:

- 'Waterloo', 1974 ('Eurovision Song Content Winner')

- 'Mamma Mia', 1975 (Now a successful stage show and movie)

- 'Fernando', 1976

- 'Dancing Queen', 1976 (The Queen's favourite song to dance to, apparently!)

- 'Knowing Me Knowing You', 1977 (The catchphrase of Steve Coogan's character Alan Partridge)

- 'Name Of The Game', 1977

- 'Take A Chance On Me', 1978

- 'The Winner Takes It All', 1980

- 'Super Trouper', 1980

'Photo Of The Week' was this photograph of 'The Eye Of The Storm', taken by 48 year old Sarah Hodges of Bolton from her bedroom window. (@BoredPanda) Little did Sarah know that the pictures, taken with a Samsung S9 phone, would quickly go viral, amassing over 2K likes and a staggering 35K shares, with people praising her for the mesmerizing pictures of the full moon.

'BBC News' reported that the UK's oldest woman has died at the age of 111 this week. Hilda Clulow was one of six siblings, and married Arthur Clulow when she was 29 years old. Mrs Clulow, who had one son and seven grand and great-grandchildren, worked as a dressmaker at Balsall Heath Factory from the age of 16 to 60. She died at Bowood Court & Mews Care Home in Redditch on Christmas Eve. Staff said: "We all loved her and were very proud of her."

We discussed how life expectancy is increasing in the UK and wondered if she would have received a telegram from HM Queen every birthday after 100?

(Looking it up after the session, the facts are as follows)

"The Queen sends messages of congratulations for Diamond (60th), 65th and Platinum (70th) wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter. Her Majesty also arranges messages for 100th, 105th birthdays and every year thereafter."

It was Dame Julie Walters 70th birthday this week. She spoke movingly with 'The Guardian' of her battle with bowel cancer and was pleased to report she is now clear of it. Recalling the moment of her diagnosis, she said: “Shock. First of all, shock. And I thought, ‘Right.’ Then you hold on to the positive, which was that [the surgeon] said: ‘We can fix this.’”

Walters was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer, which indicates the cancer has spread into nearby lymph nodes, and is one level below the most serious categorisation. The actor first visited a doctor with indigestion and “slight discomfort”, but later returned with symptoms such as stomach pain, heartburn and vomiting. She was then referred to a gastric surgeon for a CT scan and later had 30cm of her colon removed. Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We are very sorry to hear Dame Julie has been treated for bowel cancer. We are incredibly grateful to her for speaking so openly about her diagnosis. It’s only by talking publicly about this disease and raising awareness that we can encourage more people to take action if they have concerns."

We listed some of Julie Walter's best films as being:

- 'Educating Rita', 1983 (with Michael Caine)

- 'Billy Elliot', 2000

- 'Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone', 2011

- 'Calendar Girls', 2003

- 'Mamma Mia', 2008

We also remembered her fantastic role as Mrs Overall in Victoria Wood's 'Acorn Antiques' and, of course, her 'Two Soups' sketch.

Another lovely story came from @BoredPanda this week. The story was about a couple named Dustin and Caren Moore, who adopted a new born infant after being unsuccessful with fertility treatment. The couple flew out to collect their new baby from the mother who offered her up for adoption, then were on the flight home to California when the story happened.

A flight attendant approached them asking what prompted them to fly with such a young infant and Dustin was compelled to tell them the adoption story. After hearing it, the flight crew decided to throw the parents an improvised baby shower on board. They announced that a special guest who had just been adopted was on the flight and encouraged the passengers to write advice for her parents on napkins. “The show of love from perfect strangers made us feel encouraged, like people were rooting for us,” Dustin said. The couple was then given pilot wings in addition to 60 lovely notes written by supportive flight passengers. “There were lots of notes. Among some that I didn’t mention in the tweet were to get a dog and to make sure we always told her we loved her. My favourite was the person who said they were adopted 64 years ago, because it made me imagine our daughter on some future flight telling a newly adoptive couple something similar as what we heard.” When asked what advice the new parent could give to others who are thinking of adopting a child, Dustin said: “We were initially hesitant to adopt. Your fears, your worries, and the uncertainties are all reasons to have. And while you’ll need to invest a little more emotionally because of these feelings, I promise that the payout will exceed anything you could have imagined.”

What a lovely story! After wiping away a tea or two, our next song was 'Isn't She Lovely', from Stevie Wonder - link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVvkjuEAwgU

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

Many years ago I went to a picnic with Errol Brown from Hot Chocolate. It started with a quiche...

I start my new job as an apprentice bell ringer later this morning... It's my first day, so they'll just be showing me the ropes.

My wife has insisted that I take up boxing and call her Adrian... I think we’re going through a bit of a Rocky patch.

Marvin Gaye once kept a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.

I’m on my way to fix Cat Stevens’ caravan due to some damage caused by the strong winds... Awning has broken.

I was in the loft yesterday when I found my granddad's old wig-making machine... It's a family hair loom...

Fun fact! There is only one person who is more irate than Germaine Greer. That is her sister, Anne.

Last night I gave my wife my medieval battle uniform to polish while I went to the pub... She’s always said she wanted a night in, shining armour...

A local story making national news this week was this one from 'Wales Online'.

A family unwittingly brought home a live World War Two bomb from a beach – causing neighbours to be evacuated and sparking commuter chaos across Cardiff. Tammy Ryan, 41, was on a beach walk with her daughter, husband and dog when they found the device. “We didn’t realise what it was, we just took it home and thought it was something that washed up in the storm,” said Mrs Ryan. Mrs Ryan and her family took the bomb back to her home in Andrew Road, Penarth. It wasn’t until she used Google Lens image recognition technology that they realised it was a WW2 incendiary device. Roads were closed, the neighbourhood was evacuated and the Army Bomb Disposal Unit called. All was well after several hours, but it was later reported that the device was 'live'.

Crikey! We all agreed that 'Google Lens' has a lot of benefits. Some members had been stuck in traffic as a result of this incident.

Another nice local story came from @MissWordSalad, who wrote:

"Just had a lovely surprise visitor. A lady who was born in my house and lived here for 75 yrs wanted to see it again and have a trip down memory lane. On VE day her mother opened all the windows and played singalong songs on the piano to the street party outside."

We remembered that 'Victory In Europe Day' was 8th May 1945 and agreed it must have been a very moving experience for the new homeowner to have this 'one last look' visit by its previous owner.

A local story not so uplifting was this one 'ITV Wales News'.

Wetherspoon owner Tim Martin, 64, is refusing to rip up the carpet pictured above after the town council blocked permission to use its historic coat of arms in the pile. The refurbishment, which included the carpet design, cost £715k. He has been ordered to rip it out or face legal action over the design featuring two unicorns and a dragon. Locals are up in arms with the council about their actions.

We all thought it was a very nice carpet and should stay!

'BBC News' reported this week that a message in a bottle had washed up on a beach in Jersey after 82 years at sea.

Nigel Hill was walking his dog in St Aubin when he stumbled upon the glass bottle. A note inside - dated 1938 - asks the finder to "communicate" with a man called John Stapleford.

It appears on the back of a cake box, which can be traced to the once Jersey-based company Cawley Bros. People investigating the bottle said that led them to believe the note had originated from the island and they had guessed it was sent by Mr Stapleford, who was curious about whether anyone would find it. The message includes an address for Mr Stapleford in Hertfordshire. Mr Hill said the discovery had prompted him to track down the relatives of Mr Stapleford, adding the support from people in Jersey had been "overwhelming". Jersey resident, Phil Le Cheminant, said "incredible records" revealed Mr Stapleford had been a civil servant. Why he was in Jersey remains "a part of the puzzle we are yet to solve", said Mr Le Cheminant.

It was 'Cornish Pasty Week' this week. We looked at this smashing old video from 'BBC Archive' explaining it's history and origins - link here https://twitter.com/BBCArchive/status/1229020098691817478?s=20

We all agreed we liked a pasty and went around the room stating our favourite pasty and pie fillings.

Our last story was Sidney Poitier's 93rd birthday this week. He received an honorary Knighthood from the Queen in 1974 and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, which is the highest honour for a civilian.

We remembered his some of his best films included:

= 'The Defiant Ones', 1958 ('Best Actor' BAFTA)

- 'Lilies Of The Field', 1962 ('Best Actor' Oscar - first African-American to win this award)

- 'In The Heat Of The Night', 1967

- 'To Sir With Love', 1967

- 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner', 1967

Our next song, of course, was 'To Sir With Love', sung by Lulu in 1967 (she also starred in the movie) - link to video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-M_wg8AI4

We finished with another Lulu song - her winning 1969 Eurovision entry 'Boom Bang A Bang'. Link here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-M_wg8AI4

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