Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a programme of themed activities, covering a range of topics and is designed to improve the mental abilities and memory of someone with dementia.
CST is an intervention for people with dementia that offers enjoyable activities to provide stimulation for thinking, concentration and memory with a small group in a relaxed social setting. Taking part in mentally stimulating activities is associated with better cognitive function and is one of the types of non-medical intervention recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence).
Carried out over several weeks in small groups, the programme is usually carried out over 14 sessions, each lasting around 45 minutes and containing structured discussions and group activities. Groups are deliberately small, usually consisting of only five to eight people.
Each session follows the same structure, though the theme changes. Topics might include childhood, food, current affairs and using money. Different activities will be offered around each theme, for example, one week the activities might involve word puzzles or games, another week playing a musical instrument. The group provides a supportive atmosphere and the activities offer a range of multi-sensory and enjoyable experiences.
Groups usually meet on a weekly basis for 14 weeks. This can be followed by a 24-week maintenance programme. Topics followed are wide ranging, thought provoking and great fun. They include number games, physical games, creative activities and reminiscence.
Tibbs Dementia Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Society and Carers in Bedfordshire offer a Cognitive Stimulation group or therapy.
Carers in Bedfordshire coordinate two small, friendly CST groups that meet at St Georges Court, Leighton Buzzard and Gothic House, Arlesey. While the person with dementia enjoys CST, carers meet to collect information and talk with others in a similar situation.
Tibbs Dementia Foundation run weekly groups in Bedford and Flitwick and fortnightly groups are delivered by the Alzheimer’s Society in Barton-le-Clay and Biggleswade.