For the best part of twenty years, I’ve travelled across the UK for every meeting and every teaching day involving the Butterfly Scheme. For me, that’s meant a life involving a lot of trains and hotels, but it has – genuinely – always been a pleasure to meet the people at the other end.

Once, along the way, I delivered a teaching session via videolink, because there was a small hospital which was very remote, even from its sister hospitals – but I really didn’t like not being there with the staff team; I couldn’t see the staff well and the sound wasn’t great, either.

The pandemic, of course, changed a lot of that; people became used to videolinked meetings and events, facilities for them were improved and techniques changed. Here at the Butterfly Scheme, we even had a two-day UK-wide collaborative event via videolink and it went extremely well. Now, for the first time, I’m actually planning some videolinked launch days, rather than automatically travelling to each one – and it’s striking just how normalised that concept has become. 

Meanwhile, instead of having long phone calls with Butterfly Scheme Leads across the UK when anything needs discussing, most of those phone calls have become Teams calls – so those face-to-face links have actually increased, rather than reduced. 

It’s great that videocalling has become something many hospitals can offer to patients with dementia, so that they can retain good links when loved ones can’t get to the hospital, but it’s important that we remember that it’s been the pandemic and increased usage of these tools that’s made many of us feel at ease with them – and it’s our repeated use of them that has allowed us to find what works best for us. People living with dementia may not feel at ease with videocalling and we need to bear in mind that phone calls may still be the best way for some of them to link with absent friends and family when in hospital.

Thank you to all hospital staff who go the extra mile to ensure the best person-centred approach for each patient, whether in this or in so many other aspects of their care.