The New Normal

I just wanted to give a brief update of what we have been doing with our 'Dementia Cafe' and 'Friendship Group' over recent weeks, since lockdown began.

As it seems it is going to be some time before we can physically meet again, colleagues decided to look into on-line 'Zoom' meetings so that virtual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy sessions could be offered to clients and supporters.

We've been running two sessions a week for about a month now and, with some fine tuning, things are going really well and participants seem to be enjoying a bit of social contact and stimulation. The sessions are highly valued, as evidenced by our returning members.

The outline of each session is as follows:

- Introductions (maybe with an item of sharing, for example showing a family photo or introducing a pet)

- How are you? / Brief catch up with the week's news, by way of orientation

- Themed picture and music quiz - 25 questions and 5 songs (with reminiscences and story telling included)

- Scores and virtual refreshments and prizes (it's just for fun!)

- Planning for next week and 'Thanks' and 'Goodbyes'.

We have about ten members and their supporters joining each session. A few clients are able to use the tech independently, but more need a bit of support to get started.

As for 'Zoom', it's free for 40 mins. But our NHS Trust has purchased the full application.

With a bit of practice, we have learned how to save pictures onto the desktop of the facilitator's computer and then change the background image as we progress through the pictures and questions. We have yet to figure out how to share a YouTube video screen, rather than hold a phone up to the microphone to play the music, but there is a way of doing this. Hopefully, by next week this will be sorted.

Colleagues are planning to offer additional sessions, for example 'Thai Chi', and a local 'Dementia Choir' already has an on-line group up and running.

I will keep publishing the 'CST Activities Pages' we use each week, so you can borrow from them if you wish to take a similar step into the virtual world. And of course, clients and supporters wherever they are can use the materials at home. If in a formal care setting, printing off the questions and pictures can be useful, especially for writing answers and scoring papers.

Anyway, that's it for now. These are difficult times I know, but keep smiling and stay safe.

Best regards,


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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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