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

Dementia Cafe

We started this week's 'Dementia Cafe' session by discussing the sad news that Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, had died aged 77. We remembered the other members of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' - John Cleese, Eric Idol, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin.

We watched a clip of Michael Palin talking about the loss of his friend, link here - https://twitter.com/BBCNews/status/1220262052633202688?s=20

"He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian - writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children's author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have." Sir Michael Palin

This led us to our first song, which we sang along with, 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' - You Tube clip with lyrics here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_-q9xeOgG4

Next, we touched on another sad story. It was 'Holocaust Memorial Day' on 27th January. We remembered those who had perished in the atrocity, but also paid tribute to the heroes who helped save lives.

Nicholas Winton helped 669 Jewish children escape the Nazis. His efforts went unrecognised for 50 years; then in 1988, while sitting as a member of a 'That's Life' TV audience, he suddenly found himself surrounded by some of the children he’d rescued, now adults. "It often takes the dark to see the stars." @G_S_Boghal

We watched this very moving clip together -


After this, we all needed a hug. Just as well, as it was 'National Hug Day' on 21st January. Research has shown us that hugging has the following benefits:

- Lowers blood pressure

- Supports the immune system

- Lowers heart rate

- Lowers stress

- Improves sleep

- Stimulates the brain

- Reduces pain

- Reduces anxiety.

We all agreed that we needed to do far more of it!

Gerry And The Pacemakers song 'Ferry Cross The Mersey' reached number 8 in the UK charts in January 1965 - 65 years ago. It also reached number 1 when re-released and re-recorded by Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson and The Christians in April 1989, to support fundraising for the Hillsborough football disaster.

We enjoyed this song, but also one of Gerry And The Pacemakers other number 1 songs, the 1963 hit 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. This song comes from the musical 'Carousel', but is more famous for being sung at Liverpool football matches.

Links to YouTube clips for both songs with lyrics are here:



Brexit was fast approaching this week, with 31st January 2020 being the UK's leaving date. We briefly discussed the pros and cons of leaving the EU, then looked at this photo of the new UK blue passport, which had made it into 'The Express'. We looked for the mistake, see if you can find it...

Next, it was time for a few @DadJokeMan jokes ... Everyone really seems to enjoy these.

My wife thinks that I am intrusive and nosey. At least, that's what she wrote in her diary...

I've just got a job making plastic Draculas. There are only two of us on the production line... So I have to make every second Count.

I’ve had to take a terrible job impersonating a deflating balloon. I feel like I’ve let myself down.

BREAKING NEWS! An earthquake hit near a biscuit factory in the North East of England last night. It measured 2.8 on the Rich Tea scale...

My wife said "Come into the bedroom and I'll put on that black lace number...” I said "No thanks, I can't stand ‘Agadoo’...”

I found a box of frozen fish in the street the other day. I was going to hand it in to the police, but then decided it was a case of Findus kippers...

I went into the newsagents and asked the guy for a Twirl and a Boost.... He span round and said “You look fantastic, have you lost weight ?”

My friend has just passed his Masters degree in salad studies. He now has lettuce after his name...

My mum always used to say "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"... Nice lady, terrible surgeon...

The world paper tearing champion has died. RIP.

‘Doctor, I’m feeling about as lifeless as a Welsh seaside resort in winter’. ‘Hmm, it sounds like you're Rhyl’

Mary had a little lamb The midwife was surprised...

I’ve offered my elderly neighbour £10 to have a go on her stair lift.... I think she's going to take me up on it...

Some friends are holding a joint party for the Chinese New Year and Burns Night called ‘Chinese-Burns Night’ I wasn't keen but they twisted my arm...

Talking of 'Burns Night', here is my 'Story Of The Week', about a chap who had a little too much whisky and ended up sleeping in the wrong bed!

Link here - https://twitter.com/JoshFeldberg/status/1220713524554620934?s=20

A couple of 'Good News Stories' to finish ...

This chap, David Lee, a cobbler aged 40, cut through his right thumb while trimming the heel of a shoe at his shop in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. Surgeons managed to amputate his toe and attach it to his hand, as a replacement thumb. The set of operations took about 10 hours in total. He said the reconstruction enabled him to return to work and do "what I love again".

Apparently, jigsaw sales have soared this last couple of years. I guess more people are choosing to stay in and do things together as a family? We discussed who enjoys making a jigsaw and remembered the biggest set ever completed was Educa's 42,000 piece, measuring over 24.57 x 5.15 feet!

Next, we looked at a video clip of a baby Black Rhino, born this week in Folly Farm, Pembrokeshire. The newborn is one of only an estimated 40 of the critically endangered species born in the UK in the past 20 years (and the first in Wales). There are less than 650 left in Africa. Here's a link to the video - https://twitter.com/BBCWalesNews/status/1220671851472605187?s=20

Next, people had been posting on Twitter their first sightings of daffodils. We remembered this is the national flower of Wales and discussed which flowers were members' favourites.

Finally, we discussed the 'Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship', which is set to start this weekend. We remembered the teams that play are ...

- England

- France

- Ireland

- Italy

- Scotland

- Wales.

... and the emblems they wear are ....

Our last songs were, of course, a couple of Welsh rugby related songs.

First, there was 'Delilah', by Tom Jones - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ypy0QWM1pLc

Then, 'Hymns And Arias', by Max Boyce - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0RDadPheNQ

I hope you like these weekly short CST session blogs. Please let me know if they are helpful in your activities planning?