Thriving With Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST)

Written by Memory Matters.

Thriving With Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST)

“I notice a difference in him. He has lots to talk about after attending a Memory Matters Workshop. We have good conversations. He wasn’t talking much before” This was a recent comment from the wife of one of our Memory Matters Workshop attendees.

The benefits of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) has been well-recorded through clinical trials*. Not only does it increase language skills, increase cognition (thinking skills) and quality of life but it also has benefits for staff and volunteers.

One Memory Matters workshop facilitator, Annie Cruse said “I find the workshops really rewarding. It enriches my life- I’m learning every day from the people in our groups. We build meaningful relationships with people. It’s a privilege to be in a moment where you get a snapshot of reminiscence. You get some real gems of moments”

Another facilitator, Clarinda Clancy said, “ it’s great when you see someone who was uneasy and apprehensive to begin with, with a big smile on their face.”

CST, despite having been around for over 20 years, and having been recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence since 2006 still isn’t readily available to everyone living with mild to moderate dementia and Memory Matters is on a mission to change that.

“There is definitely a postcode lottery,” says Laura Walker, Co-founder and Joint CEO of Memory Matters. “We see some excellent examples of good practice in different parts of the country, where we train people in the core skills. But there are also areas where people just don’t have access to it at all.

CST fits well into any NHS run memory service and is now included as one of the key standards for accreditation by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It gives the opportunity for a light touch pathway where people are in touch with professionals on a regular basis where any concerns and issues can be picked up and dealt with quickly, averting the need for more resource-intensive intervention.

After the initial 14-week treatment group there is a need for good maintenance sessions. This where the benefits of CST can be maintained through regular contact with peers and a trained facilitator through Memory Matters Workshops for as long as a person may benefit.

Over the last ten years, Memory Matters have been experimenting and blending CST with movement, social time and the promotion of activities of daily living through their Memory Matters Workshops. This research and development have been funded for the past four years by the Big Lottery.

Memory Matters run a short day course to give people the basics in facilitating CST but have found from their research that there are often barriers to putting what they have learnt in to practice.

“We have listened to past learners who have attended our short training, taken time to understood their barriers to getting good quality sustainable groups running in their areas and responded to their need”

We are really excited to have launched our Memory Matters Fellowship that gives ongoing support to our Fellowship members which means that they don’t feel alone and are able to overcome any set-up difficulties they face. They will receive immersive training, meaning that they are confident and skilled to run workshops with the ethos of Memory Matters. Access to evaluation software enables them to measure the outcomes of their groups including cost savings to the NHS.

They receive tried and tested session plans to take the headache out of planning, resources, a supportive online VIP group and access to Kate and Laura, co-founders of Memory Matters. Fellowship members will also receive visits from experienced Memory Matters Facilitators on a regular basis.

Memory Matters vision is to create a world in which people living with dementia are empowered and thriving in their community. For people living with mild to moderate dementia, CST is a part of this.

“I’d like to see people get seamless CST provision from diagnosis and beyond from the NHS to community, 3rd sector and private sector. People supported, stimulated and having fun, whether that be in a village hall, pub, residential/ care home, retirement village or memory café.

Want to find out more and learn the basics in CST?

Book on to our short one day course taking place at Moments Café, Plymouth on Tuesday 24th March 

* Spector A, Thorgrimsen L, Woods B, Royan L, Davies S, Butterworth M, Orrell M: A randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of an evidence-based cognitive stimulation therapy programme for people with dementia. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2003, 183: 248-254. 10.1192/bjp.183.3.248.

vCST in Devon

In March 2020 when a full country lockdown was announced, Memory Matters worked fast to move all community Cognitive Stimulation Therapy groups online. In doing so we learnt an awful lot in a very short amount of time. Many people…

The Lord Mayors’ Charity of the Year

Councillor Chris Mavin was designated Lord Mayor of Plymouth for 2020/21. Chris sees his role as Lord Mayor a great honour and was truly looking forward to meeting as many residents and supporting as many events in Plymouth as possible….

Memory Matters Social Impact Report 2019/2020

We are DELIGHTED to share our Social Impact Report with you. This report highlights all the great work Memory Matters and Moments Café have been doing over the past 12 months. At the start of the year, none of us…

Virtual CST- Watch a Session

We usually run weekly workshops in 5 areas in Cornwall. After lockdown was announced we moved quickly to get as many of our beneficiaries online as we could. By the second week of lockdown most groups had an online option…

Kate and Laura Talk about 10 years of Memory Matters

To celebrate ten years of Memory Matters on Monday 15th June, we have created a conversation with Kate and Laura over Zoom. WE had a lot of celebrating planned but unfortunately our plans were scuppered by COVID 19. Make yourself…

Supporting Moments Café throughout COVID-19

A few days after celebrating Moments Café’s 3rd birthday, we had to close our doors to help protect our customers and staff from COVID-19. Our customers are always our priority and we are counting down the days until we can…

Helping Someone with Dementia to Stay Mentally Active

Learn the key principles to cognitive stimulation to help loved ones stay mentally active whilst staying at home. We have spent the last ten years working with people living with dementia on keeping mentally active. There is definitely something in…

Getting Good Life Balance Whilst Staying at Home

We have been asked if there is anything we can do to help you fill the days during isolation. Whilst some people are happy to just go with the flow and see what happens during the day, others are looking…

COVID-19 Volunteers – Successful Dementia Conversation Tips

The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is meaning we are are all having to learn fast. If you are volunteering in your community delivering food shopping or helping out your neighbours you may be helping people living with dementia….

5 Things to help you keep Brain Fit while self-isolating

As many of us find ourselves stuck at home, we may find ourselves starting to feel that our brains are lacking the stimulation that we receive in our normal day-to-day life. In my six week course, I work with people…

Top UK Inspirational Women Award For Kate & Laura

Useful Links for Those Affected by a Diagnosis of Dementia

I had the joy on Wednesday of taking part in a live webinar hosted by RBS for their staff entitled “Dealing with a Dementia Diagnosis” Max Pownell, Founder and Director from Carecalls CIC, and I chatted about the things…

Do something novel to keep your brain fit today!

Experiencing something new creates the ‘Novelty response’ in the brain. Our hippocampus jumps into action as soon as we engage with something novel. Our brains are activated by anything we haven’t experienced before as it is hard-wired to become alert….

Why do I forget names?

I have just come back from one of our lottery funded public talks ‘How to remember things better’ at Truro library. It was great fun and the room was full of friendly people who just want their memories to work…

10 Healthy Brain Habits you can do today…

1. Get up and go to be bed early. 2. Drink a whole glass of water as soon as you get up. 3. Write 3 things you are grateful for. 4. Do something that makes you sweat. 5. Wear clothes…

Five Successful Conversation Starters That Don’t Rely on Memory

Memory Difficulties are the most common symptom people living with dementia experience. Conversations generally rely on us remembering what has been said just a minute ago to keep the flow which can be tricky and our ‘small talk’ usually relies…

Are Mandalas Good For The Brain?

I wasn’t that long ago that I had become a little obsessed with mandalas. I even attempted to convince Kate (my co-director) that Memory Matters could have a little rebrand and become Mandala Matters instead, with a marvellous mandala logo….

Who’s Driving?

Another great Insight from Memory Matters Trainer Phillippa Hodge through having coffee with her friend who lives with dementia.

Repetitive Questions

Our trainer Phillippa Hodge explores dealing with repetitive questions…

My friend dementia. The story of a Memory Matters staff member.

I intended to be a maker of things. Working from a secluded studio, quiet with my materials and thoughts. I was studying a contemporary crafts BA at Plymouth College of Art, working predominately with clay. I love the cool, quiet…

Who’s Behaviour is Challenging Anyway?

Memory Matters’ Trainer Phillippa Hodge tells us about her experience with her friend John and how her willingness to learn how the world may look from his perspective helped those around him to communicate more effectively.

Volunteer Pam Warren gains recognition for all her hard work

This is Pam Warren. She is one of the Kindest and compassionate people we know and we are so lucky to have her on board as a volunteer. Pam works tirelessly, she bakes cakes every week and has done since Memory…