As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly changed the situation in our hospitals over recent months. Gradually, things are now normalising, but we don’t know how stable the immediate future is. I thought, therefore, that this was a suitable moment to remind people about how best to help healthcare teams along with their dementia care.

All member hospitals and healthcare organisations have tried throughout this period to maintain appropriate dementia care, but it won’t have been straightforward. Many Dementia Care Leads have found themselves moved to other roles, staff have been shifted to cover urgent requirements and the ward experience will have been very different. If there are gaps during the coming weeks, let’s look at how to address them.

If you or a loved one need to access the Butterfly Scheme, but it isn’t immediately offered upon admission:

  • ask for the scheme and ask for your request to be written into the notes

If the staff caring for you or a loved one don’t seem equipped to offer the dementia care you expect:

  • ask to speak to a Butterfly Scheme champion
  • if there isn’t one around (and we know people may be displaced at the moment), ask to speak to the Dementia Lead or the Matron for Elderly Care – and ask for that request to be written into the notes

If there are specific elements of care that aren’t appropriate to you or your loved one:

  • speak to a senior nurse or ward manager and ensure that the problems – and, ideally, recommended solutions – are clearly written into the notes

The reason for ensuring important points about care are written into the notes is that many staff caring for a patient will read those notes – and if you need to chase something up, you can refer to the notes and you’re not starting from scratch each time. Please know that expecting appropriate dementia care is absolutely the right thing to do and it’s what the teams want, too – so by discussing it pleasantly and helping them along, you’re working in partnership with them and they’ll be glad of your input. 

Please don’t be alarmed by this month’s message; despite everything that’s been happening, many healthcare teams have continued to offer fabulous dementia care and I’m hearing lots of uplifting stories. If things aren’t as usual, though, I’d recommend following the guidance above; we call the patient-carer-staff partnership the “Triangle of Care” and, by each of those partners keeping communicating as well as they can, we can help dementia care to be the best possible.