International Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) Centre


Virtual iCST

Adapting Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for virtual delivery in Hong Kong and UK

PhD student: Esther Hui  Principal Supervisor: Prof Aimee Spector

Esther Hui image

COVID-19 has been detrimental for people with dementia. According to the UK death certificates in 2020, it is the most common underlying condition in all COVID-19 related deaths. Reduced social contact, increased isolation, disruption of routine, exacerbated by the lack of respite for carers, is damaging to people with dementia’s mental health and overall well-being. 

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is the only therapy recommended by the UK government to improve cognitive function for dementia. While CST is used in 85% of NHS memory services, this routine treatment is suspended because of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, however, there were already people with dementia who could not access regular treatment due to lack of transport provision, mobility issues, and sensory impairments. An accessible treatment is paramount amid the pandemic and beyond. 

Esther Hui, Professor Aimee Spector’s PhD student, is developing and evaluating a virtual and 14-session version of Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy—Virtual Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (V-iCST)—in Hong Kong and the UK. She’s developing V-iCST within the Medical Research Council Framework (MRC) for complex interventions and building upon the key principles of CST. V-iCST will be evaluated as a mixed-methods case series in Hong Kong and a feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) in the UK [ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04828434]. 

Esther is funded by UCL’s Overseas Research Scholarship and Doctoral School Fellowship. She is also the founder of the PhD/ Doctoral Student Dementia Researcher Peer Group at UCL. 


Hui, E. K., Wong, G. H., Tischler, V., Yuan, S. N. V., Leung, W. G., Saunders, R., ... & Spector, A. (2022). Virtual individual cognitive stimulation therapy in Hong Kong: A mixed methods feasibility study. Geriatric Nursing47, 125-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2022.07.010 

Virtual CST on the Dementia Researcher podcast

In March 2022, Dementia Researcher featured a podcast on developing and delivering virtual group and individual CST. Esther Hui, PhD student, and Emily Fisher, CST-International Programme Manager/PhD Student, were interviewed by Anna Volkmer from UCL.

Listen to the podcast below, or visit the Dementia Researcher website.

SoundCloud Widget Placeholderhttps://soundcloud.com/dementia-researcher/virtual-cognititive-stimulati...