National Workshop Program, News and Updates with Steph – 8 August 2017

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July was a busy month with Cognitive Stimulation Therapy workshops in both Brisbane and Melbourne. The general professional development workshop in Wollongong/ Woonona on the 30th June was also a great success- see the write ups below with a special thanks to Chris Grady from Regis Victoria who has done a Newsletter write up of his perspective of the CST Melbourne training so you can get an outside view into what to expect from the day.

Our Adelaide SA CST training on the 4th of August is open for registration and we have also added a CST training in Hamilton VIC on Friday 25th of August followed by a general Professional Development workshop on Monday the 28th of August. These workshops are all on line and open for registrations now.

Check out the list of all the upcoming workshops at for the workshop that works best for you. You can also continue to register your intertest in CST and be included in any information being mailed out by going through the DRTA website, clicking on the CST Training tab and completing your details. Please include the state and postcode where you are at so we can target a workshop in your area if we get the numbers.

If you have several DT’s, Leisure and Lifestyle staff, RAOs or assistants across your facility or facilities that may like to learn Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and its implementation to people with Mild to Moderate dementia then we also have facility rates available for up to 18 people at each training. This is the most economical way of training a larger group and ensure that everyone in your organisation is on board with the Principles and Therapy that is CST. While the training is based on diversional therapy principles staff from other departments of your facility may benefit from attending making the discount a substantial reduction. Contact the DRTA office or email me directly at to discuss bringing the training to your workplace.


Woonona/ Wollongong Workshop
The beautiful coast line and the weather didn’t disappoint as a dedicated group meet in the south of Sydney town of Woonona at the RSL club- Woonona is a suburb of the ever- expanding city of Wollongong. While there was some confusion with the club not opening before 9.30 we were able to get straight into learning with a passionate and interesting presentation by Stewart Alford- Stewart is a PHD candidate from the University of Wollongong studying the effects of Therapeutic Recreation on the Resilience, Motivation & Mental Health of consumers involved in the University developed ‘Recovery Camp’ project. Stewart teaches at Western Sydney University as well as has a part time role as a Diversional Therapist at War Memorial Hospital, Waverly. Stewart also holds a Masters in Health Science in Health Services Management and a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Practice. He has had a variety of roles in Aged Care, Therapeutic Recreation Management, Mental Health Therapeutic Recreation and Community Mental Health and with this wealth of experience his presentation looked at addressing the mental and emotional needs of the people we work with and how we can assist to meet these needs for everyone through looking at their Psychological Needs in a Physiological World. Thanks Stewart for this great and informative presentation.

The group obviously enjoyed the Laughter Yoga session that followed as well as the interactive discussion on Programming for the Future. The group gained an understanding of motor and non-motor symptoms in relation to Parkinson’s disease through the very informative presentation by Dr Kirsten Robertson-Gillam who came down especially from the Parkinson’s Association in Sydney. Attendees learnt the importance of understand the significance of medication timing. Kirsten gave us some useful and practical strategies on how to better meet the needs of people living with Parkinson’s disease and set them up for success.

George Mitszal from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District in Mental Health Services gave us a look at the services available and how you can access them for your clients. Focusing on Recovery Principles and Trauma informed care George talked about ‘strength based language’ principles to reduce the stigma of mental health as well as addressing some myths about people with a mental health problem. Finishing up with some practical activities and Games to Make and Play it was great again to bring DRTA training to the regional areas to meet members needs and spread the professional message of the Association. Let us know if you’d like a workshop near you and I can organise the speakers and presentations from your local services and we’d love to come to you.

Brisbane CST workshop
I was sort of pleased that half the class were unwell on the rainy Friday we meet in Brisbane for Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Training- at least I didn’t bring the dreaded flu I was also suffering from Sydney to Brisbane- it was already here. We all managed to soldier on and with a nice morning tea and lunch to keep our energy up from the Hotel Jen we had a great day. The CST training is interactive and different teaching medias are used to keep all attendees focused and engaged for the day. The practical session included in the training ensures that everyone has the skills they need to put CST sessions on to their weekly program almost immediately. Thanks ladies for a great day and best of luck for you CST journey. Remember that as part of the CST training I am available to answer any of your queries or concerns when setting up this therapy- we want to get everyone who is first diagnosed with this disease to have the hope that CST can bring them- start your programs today- it is a journey and remember to be flexible while being consistent!!

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Workshop Melbourne
Melbourne CST workshop- Written by Chris Grady DT Working for Regis Aged Care (past President of DT Victoria)
On Friday 14th July, I attended a Workshop in Cognitive Stimulation Therapy at Skills Training Australia in the heart of Melbourne, presented by Stephania Bejma, Education Coordinator for Diversional and Recreational Therapy Australia. The work shop was attended by Diversional Therapists, Coordinators of DT’s, private consultants and people that have worked in the industry for many years and some that have only started on their Leisure and Lifestyle journey. Presentation of the workshop was in an interactive way and the class could openly talk ideas through and share their knowledge working with people with Dementia. Sessions included looking at language, terms of endearment and the creative activities that could be used in the sessions. The training also takes you through the background- It was developed by Dr’s Aimee Spector, Lene Thorgrimsen, Martin Orrell and Bob Wood in the UK. Aimee is a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer at the University College of London and she completed her PhD based on the evidence based project leading to the development of the Making a Difference manuals. We looked at the principles of CST and how CST is different to our usual programs and activities. There is a test at the end- open book- to ensure we had covered all the important aspects. Anyone who is working with a person with dementia, in any care setting, can carry out CST sessions. It was great to see most of the 9 participants were DRTA members and all had an interest in learning this therapy for people with mild to moderate dementia. 

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a non-pharmacological treatment for people who have mild to moderate dementia. In fact, CST is the only non-pharmacological therapy for people with mild to moderate dementia that’s specifically recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The training gave us the process and the procedures that have been shown when followed can have some great cognitive benefits to the people we work with. I look forward to facilitating this in my workplace at Regis Armadale. Thanks everyone for an excellent day’s training and the great bagels for lunch just topped it off.

Remember DRTA also has available on request Leisure and Lifestyle in Practice workshops where training can be made to your specific needs providing general training and inspiring sessions. Contact or myself directly for further information.

The quote this month is
“Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up”. -Unknown

Till next month
Steph Bejma
DTA National Education Coordinator

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