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Maintenance Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (MCST)

MCST supports the wellbeing and mental stimulation of people living with dementia through group activities.

What's MCST?

Maintenance Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (MCST) is a weekly one- to two-hour-long programme for people living with mild to moderate dementia.

Group members take part in meaningful and stimulating activities, proven to help maintain memory and mental functioning. The groups provide a fun, supportive environment where people can build new friendships.

Activities include:

  • discussions
  • word games
  • quizzes
  • physical activities
  • creative and musical activities.

Watch our MCST videos

Watch the videos below to find out more about the impact that MCST has on people living with dementia, as well as their carers and loved ones.

Age UK Berkshire

Supporting people living with dementia by providing MCST sessions, as well as a supportive space for carers.

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Age UK Tameside

Supporting people in the Gujarati community living with dementia by facilitating translated MCST sessions.

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Age Scotland Orkney

Supporting people living with dementia in their communities by facilitating online MCST sessions.

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Age UK Somerset

Supporting people living with dementia in the Taunton area by providing MCST sessions since 2021.

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Age UK Hertfordshire

Supporting people living with dementia in their communities by delivering MCST sessions.

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Age UK Somerset

Supporting people living with dementia in Bridgwater and across Somerset by providing MCST sessions.

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Why is MCST so important?

After someone is diagnosed with dementia, they may be offered Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST). This is a short-term programme for people with mild to moderate dementia and usually runs twice weekly for seven weeks following diagnosis.

However once this programme finishes, there’s limited provision of services for people with mild to moderate dementia. MCST is a longer-term programme based in community settings which helps to fill this gap.

Cognitive Stimulation is the only non-drug treatment recommended to improve cognition, independence and well-being by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Some things, like crosswords, can be difficult to tackle on your own but together you feel you can do it.

MCST group member

Where can I find an MCST group?

With thanks to generous funding from the Association of British Insurers' COVID-19 Support Fund, MCST programmes have been delivered across the Age UK, Scotland and Cymru network – including some established virtual MCST groups.

Many local partners are still delivering MCST. Contact your local Age UK to find out if they're running sessions.

Find your local Age UK


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The Association of British Insurers' funding ran from January 2021-December 2023. Below is a list of all the local partners who took part in that period.

Local partners delivering MCST January 2021-December 2023

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

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What's the impact of MCST?

Age UK's MCST programme was found to have improved or slowed the decline of the cognitive abilities of people living with mild to moderate dementia. It also improved their overall wellbeing.

Over the course of the programme, MCST was found to have a positive impact on clients' lives in a range of ways:

  • The QUAL-AD score for clients increased, suggesting an improved quality of life.
  • Clients' cognition levels largely remained level over the course of the programme.
  • Clients, carers and staff saw a range of improvements in clients' cognition and a range of other behaviours.

MCST programme evaluation report

The evaluation report for the 2021-2023 Age UK Dementia MCST programme was done by Research Works Ltd.

MCST programme executive summary (2.4 MB)

MCST programme evaluation report (9.8 MB)

Pilot programme evaluation report

This report evaluates the MCST pilot programme which ran from 2017-2018. It aimed to provide more services across the country.

MCST pilot programme executive summary (1 MB)

MCST pilot programme evaluation report (8 MB)

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I can see the difference in him from when I drop him off to when I pick him up again – he’s so much happier and chatty.

Carer of group member

For more information, contact

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 09 2024

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