As consultation begins on the draft for Wales’ first Dementia Strategy, the Alzheimer’s Society has been working with other leading organisations to create a description of what it would like that strategy to include. This month it published its resulting letter to the Welsh Government.

It was pleasing to see the Butterfly Scheme referred to in that document as “accepted best practice”; people in Wales are particularly likely to be aware of what the scheme is and does, because it has long been adopted by five of Wales’ seven Health Boards. However, many people in other areas may not be as aware of what the “scheme” part of the Butterfly Scheme comprises.

The scheme’s distinctive Butterfly is a symbol which people needing dementia-appropriate care choose to use in order to request that care. A symbol, however, is very definitely not a scheme! The “scheme” part of the Butterfly Scheme is what transforms care; it is a coordinated care system that includes:

  • the scheme’s specific education-based care approach delivered by the whole team
  • the integrated use of carer-provided information
  • the welcoming of carers as respected partners in healthcare
  • a system of communication of care need across the whole healthcare team
  • the maintenance of that integrated care approach

As the Butterfly Scheme has become so respected, there has been a tendency for some Trusts to use other identification symbols in connection with dementia and to call them a scheme. In 2017 I’d like to see the word “scheme” used only when there really is a scheme of care, rather than attached to absolutely any identification symbol. People living with dementia deserve far more than simply to be identified; they need to know that making their condition known will bring insightful care.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those currently delivering that insightful dementia care via the Butterfly Scheme. The accolade of being referred to as delivering “accepted best practice” is a tribute to them.