About Me

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

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


I've been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive our 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. 


My colleagues and I have been using these approaches regularly in our day to day work and have found them beneficial. The materials provided have been tried and tested, then refined to improve and further develop them for future use.


The main aim of this website is to share our 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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December 2, 2018



As we gathered for our 'Friendship Group', 'Storm Diane' was fast approaching and the winds were picking up. Gale force 7-8 winds were expected. We asked who liked a good storm - hearing the wind howling around outside, watching the waves crashing on the beach or feeling the strength of the gusts on your face when walking outside; or who hated this type of bad weather - tiles coming off the roof, roads being blocked by falling trees or the traffic chaos which ensues.

Brexit was approved by the EU this week. The final agreement is to be debated in The House Of Commons on 12th December. Likely outcomes are it will fail to get through and we will either face No Deal or Remain. Possibly a Second Referendum or General Election. The general view of the group was, "Not another one!"

The main theme for this week's Cognitive Stimulation Therapy activities was 'Birds'. The reason we were discussing our feathered friends was because 2018 has been the National Geographic 'Year Of The Bird'.

2018 marked the centenary of the 'Migratory Bird Treaty Act', which is apparently the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honour of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the 'Year of the Bird' and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years.

We asked, who likes or dislikes birds and the reasons why?
Does anyone bird watch?
Does anyone feed birds, using a bird table or feeder?
Does anyone have birds nesting in their garden?
Has anyone visited a bird sanctuary, like 'Slimbridge'?
Has anyone seen a rare bird, and if so where?
Does anyone have a favourite bird, and if so why?
Can anyone make the sound of a bird, e.g. an owl using their cupped hands?


We moved on to ask members to complete the following idioms about birds, giving clues where necessary as provided in brackets.

As dead as a DODO (extinct)
A bird in the hand is worth two in the BUSH (be content with what you have)
As proud as a PEACOCK (a vain or self centred person)
The early bird catches the WORM (gain advantage by taking early action)
SWAN song (farewell performance)
Night OWL (late to bed)
Wild goose CHASE (foolish and hopeless search)
What's good for the goose is good for the GANDER (what a man can have, so can a woman)
Kill the goose that lays the GOLDEN EGG (unprofitable action motivated by greed)
Goose BUMPS (fearful response)
Ugly DUCKLING (a person who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all the expectations)
Like water off a duck's BACK (unheeded warning)
Like a duck to WATER (a natural ability to do something when you try it for the first time)
Lovely weather for DUCKS (wet weather)
Don't count your chickens before they HATCH (don't necessarily expect a good outcome)
Chicken OUT (decide not to do something out of fear)
Chicken and egg SITUATION (impossible to say which existed first)
Keep somebody under your WING (take care of an inexperienced or junior person)
Spread your WINGS (expand your horizons and take opportunities)
Pecking ORDER (place within a hierarchy)
Lame DUCK (ineffectual person)
Kill two birds with one STONE (achieve two aims at once)
Fly the COOP (make your escape)
Empty NEST syndrome (children have left the house)
Eagle EYE (very observant)
Bird's eye VIEW (looking down on something)
Birds and the BEES (procreation)
As free as a BIRD (no worries or troubles)
Cockney SPARROW (born in the East End of London)
Stone the CROWS (an exclamation of surprise)
Parrot FASHION (without thought or meaning)
Birds of a feather FLOCK TOGETHER (people with the same tastes and interests tend to group together)
Mother HEN (a person who sees to the needs of others, usually in a fussy or interfering way)
HEN pecked (a man who is browbeaten or under the thumb of his female partner)
As wise as an OWL (a silent, solitary bird which hunts at night-time was associated with lunar gods, which were in turn associated with wisdom and intelligence)
Feathered FRIENDS (birds)




Who is the Patron Saint of birds? - SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISSI
What is a bird watcher is called? - TWITCHER


A collection of live birds is kept in what? AVIARY
Which bird is pink and stands on one leg? - FLAMINGO (they are pink because they eat shrimp)
Which bird is said to bury it's head in the sand? - OSTRICH
Which bird is an American emblem? - BALD EAGLE
Which bird has the largest wingspan? - ALBATROSS
What is the smallest bird in the UK? - WREN
Which bird is a symbol of peace? - DOVE
What is the only bird that can fly backwards? - HUMMING BIRD
Book publishers named after a bird? PUFFIN BOOKS OR PENGUIN BOOKS
Which whisky is named after a bird? - FAMOUS GROUSE
Which bird advertised Guiness? - TOUCAN
Which bird is also the name of a European country? - TURKEY
Which bird provides the name of a Welsh city by the sea? - SWANSEA
What would you call a pair of tight Australian swimming bathers? - BUDGIE SMUGGLERS
What fish does a Budgie grind it's teeth on and eat as a supplement? CUTTLEFISH
Which computer game involves multicoloured birds saving their eggs from green pigs? - ANGRY BIRDS
The comedian Rod Hull's bird was called what? - EMU (does anyone remember the assault on Michael Parkinson?)
Which bird is the logo for Cardiff City Football Club? - SWALLOW (their nickname is THE BLUEBIRDS)

Birds with colours in their names?

- Blue TIT
- Red KITE
- Gold FINCH
- Green FINCH
- Black BIRD
- Yellow CANARY

What is a flock of starlings flying in close formation patterns called? - MURMURATION
What is feared will happen if the Ravens leave the Tower Of London? - MONARCHY WILL COLLAPSE
Who owns all Mute Swans in the UK? - HM QUEEN ELIZABETH 11

Name some birds of prey?

- Vulture
- Buzzard
- Hawk
- Eagle
- Kestrel
- Owl

What was the name of Harry Potter's owl? - HEDWIG
Which Indian beer is named after a colourful bird? - KINGFISHER
Which exotic flower is associated with a bird? - BIRD OF PARADISE
Which bird would you have taken down the coal mine to prove the air was fit to breathe? - CANARY
What was the oversized yellow chicken on Sesame Street called? - BIG BIRD
In the nursery rhyme, how many Blackbirds were baked in the pie? FOUR AND TWENTY
In the nursery rhyme 'Polly Put The Kettle On', who took it off again? - SUKI
Name the dinosaur that flew? - PTERADACTYL
Which bird rose again from the ashes? - PHOENIX
Which bird advertised BT (voiced by Bernard Cribbins)? - BUSBY
Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the world land speed record in 1928 in a car named what? - BLUEBIRD (Pendine Sands)
Which bird gave Fleetwood Mac an instrumental hit? - ALBATROSS
What is the smallest flightless bird in the world? - KIWI (also a fruit)
Which architect designed St Paul's Cathedral? - CHRISTOPHER WREN
Which steam locomotive named after a waterbird broke the land speed record in 1938 (126mph)? - THE MALLARD
What is the name of Steve Coogan's comedy alter ego? - ALAN PARTRIDGE
What is the alternative name for the Castle in a game of chess? - ROOK
Which pedestrian crossing is named after a bird? - PELICAN
Which bird did the fictional Treasure Island pirate Long John Silver carry on his shoulder? - PARROT (CAPTAIN FLINT)
How did Pigeons help win the Second World War? - THEY CARRIED MESSAGES TO THE FRONT LINE

Optional... (proceed with caution!)
Complete the phrase ... "I'm not a pheasant plucker ..." (without swearing)

A chocolate biscuit named after a bird? - PENGUIN
A bar of soap named after a bird? - DOVE
In golf, what is one under par called? - BIRDIE
Two under par is what? - EAGLE
A margarine named after a bird? - STORK (also said to deliver a BABY)
The name of Keith Harris' bird? - ORVILLE
What was the name of Howard Hughes' seaplane? - SPRUCE GOOSE
First words spoken by Neil Armstrong when coming to rest on the moon? - THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
The type of parrot in the Monty Python 'Dead Parrot Sketch'? - NORWEGIAN BLUE
What was the name of Batman's sidekick? - ROBIN
And his arch enemy, also named after a bird? PENGUIN
What was the name of the bird that sang in Berkeley Square? - A NIGHTINGALE


Which children's cartoon character sang 'Catch That Pigeon'? - DICK DASTARDLY & MUTLEY (Can anyone do the Mutley laugh?)
What bird was the Looney Tunes character Wile, E Coyote always chasing? - ROAD RUNNER ("Meep Meep")
Which 1969 film directed by Ken Loach was about a boy raising a bird of prey? - KES
The 1975 film 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' starred which actor? - JACK NICHOLSON
Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film 'The Birds' starred which actress? - TIPPI HEDREN
The 1941 black and white thriller about a statue of a bird starring Humphrey Bogard was called what? - THE MALTESE FALCON
The 1968 war film set in the Bavarian Alps, starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton was called what? - WHERE EAGLES DARE
Who was the actor that starred as 'Mrs Doubtfire' in the 1994 comedy film? - ROBIN WILLIAMS
Robin Williams also starred in the 1996 remake of the 1970s French comedy about a gay nightclub in Nice, 'La Cage Aux Folles'. What was it's English name? THE BIRDCAGE
What was the name of the character played by Jodie Foster in 1991 thriller 'The Silence Of The Lambs'? - CLARICE STARLING
What was Hans Solo's space ship in the 1977 film 'Star Wars' called? - MILLENNIUM FALCON
The 1970s TV comedy drama series 'Robin's Nest' starred which actors? - PAULA WILCOX, RICHARD O'SULLIVAN & SALLY THOMPSON
The 1970s TV comedy series 'The Liver Birds' starred which actresses? - NERYS HUGHES & POLLY JAMES
The 1980s TV sitcom 'Birds Of A Feather' starred whom? - PAULINE QUIRK (SHARON), LINDA ROBSON (TRACEY) & LESLEY JOSEPH (DORIAN)

'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull' was written by? - RICHARD BACH
'Swallows And Amazons' was written by? - ARTHUR RANSOME
'The Lark Ascending' was composed by? - RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
'Swan Lake' was composed by - PETER ILYCH TCHAIKOVSKY
'On Hearing The First Cuckoo in Spring' was composed by - FREDERICK DELIUS




Spotify Playlist Link here

1. Mr Tambourine Man - The Byrds
(We suggest members are given tambourines to play along with this song)
Ask members to name some of the birds that were mentioned in the quiz. List as many as can be remembered.

2. Silly Love Songs - Wings
Who was Paul McCartney's wife (also a member of the group 'Wings)?
What foods with her name on can be found in every supermarket?

3. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
What was Lynyrd Skynyrd's other top 40 UK hit?
(The band was involved in a plane crash in 1977 and three band members died, which put an abrupt end to the 1970's era of the band.)

4. Songbird - Fleetwood Mac
Which best selling album does this song appear on?
(Top 40 UK hits from the 1978 Grammy award winning album included 'Go Your Own Way', 'Don't Stop', 'Dreams' & 'You Make Loving Fun'.)
(It sold 40 million copies worldwide.)

5. Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Middle Of The Road
Which social media platform is associated with a blue bird?

6. Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) - Julie Andrews
What character was Julie Andrews singing this song as?
Who co-starred in this movie with her?

7. I Taut I Taw A PuddyCat - Mel Blanc
Name the bird and the cat?

8. Magpie - The Mugratroyd Band
Sing along.
One for - SORROW
Two for - JOY
Three for - A GIRL
Four for - A BOY
Five for - SILVER
Six for - GOLD
Eight's a - WISH
Nine's a - KISS
Ten is a bird - YOU MUST NOT MISS
(Does anyone salute a Magpie for good luck?)

9. Blackbird - The Beatles
Can members name any birds which are mainly black in colour?

10. Ugly Duckling - Danny Kaye
Which 1952 Disney movie does this song come from?
(Other Hans Christian Andersen stories include 'The Princess And The Pea', 'The Emperor's New Clothes', 'The Red Shoes' & 'The Ice Maiden')

11. Mockingbird - James Taylor & Carly Simon
Who wrote the novel 'To Kill A Mockingbird'?
The 1962 film 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' starred which actor?

12. I Think I Love You - David Cassidy
What TV 'Family' show did David Cassidy star in?
(Did anyone have his poster on their bedroom wall? Were any other stars childhood heart throbs?)

13. Lovin' You - Minnie Riperton
Have members singalong with the chorus, at loud volume.
Just for fun!

14. I'm Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado
In Greek mythology, who flew too close to the sun?
ICARUS (he and his father attempted to escape from Crete by making wings out of feathers and wax)
(Do any members fancy hang gliding, or parachuting?)

15. White Cliffs Of Dover - Vera Lynn
What was Dame Vera Lynn's nickname in the Second World War?
How old is she now?
101 (Born 20th March 1917)

16. Up, Up And Away - 5th Dimension
This song was used to advertise what?
Ask members if anyone enjoys flying in a plane, or does anyone fear this?
If members had a choice, where would they jet off to for Christmas?

17. Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra
This song was used in the soundtrack to which 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks?

18. I Can't Let Maggie Go - Honeybus
What was this song used to advertise in the 1970s?

19. Rockin' Robin - Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was otherwise known as what?
His ranch was called?
NEVERLAND (after Peter Pan)

20. Twelve Days Of Christmas - The Spinners
Can anyone count the birds named in this song?

21. When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along - Dion & The Belmonts
This song is included here because "Live, love, laugh and be happy" is a great motto for us all to live by!
It's also another reminder that Christmas is just a few weeks away!

22. The Birdie Song - Black Lace
Not obligatory, but included here in case you wanted to get the group up and dancing...





For our practical activity, we printed off lots of colour images of birds for the tables. Then as we went through the questions, we paused when a bird was mentioned which corresponded with a picture and asked members to locate it and hold it up.


After the music round we then made a collage out of some of these pictures, images of birds that members had coloured in and models which members had made out of modelling clay.


As you can see from the images above, it was a very productive session.


We had also brought in a 'Squawkers McCaw' talking parrot toy from home, which also gave members a good laugh. 





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