At any time of year, it’s worth reminding carers of hospital patients what they should do if something about hospital care needs addressing urgently. 

  1. In the first instance, I’d suggest speaking to a Butterfly Scheme Champion / Dementia Champion; they’re key figures on each ward who have special responsibility for coordinating dementia care at ward level. Usually, they should be able to address all concerns and help find solutions, but if they can’t …
  2. … ask to speak to the Dementia Lead – the person who has overall responsibility for the running of dementia care in that organisation. This person may well also be the Elderly Care Lead, so that’s another role you might mention if you’re struggling to find the person you need.
  3. At each stage, I’d recommend asking for your concern to be written into the notes; that way, everything is clearly recorded and you can be sure that there’s an accurate summary of whatever you feel needs addressing.
  4. Try to stay calm throughout. I know the emotions can be hard-pressed when a loved one is in hospital, but if you and the staff team all work together, the best outcome will be achieved. Try to explain clearly the reasons you’re concerned and what any alternative solutions might be; your knowledge of the patient can be absolutely priceless in guiding the hospital team, who can’t possibly know all the tiny but significant care details that you’ve amassed over the years.

What you definitely shouldn’t do if urgent help is needed is to email the Butterfly Scheme! The Scheme’s role is to train the key teams at member hospitals (and as many other staff as are sent our way at the time of launching) in the specific dementia care approach represented by the Butterfly. We also provide the member organisations with a full kit of support materials to enable them to deliver and maintain the Scheme – but we aren’t actually based in the hospitals; we liaise at intervals with the Butterfly Scheme Lead at each member organisation and it’s they who take the Scheme forward, with our ongoing support as required.

By following the above pointers, everyone – staff, family carer and (crucially) patient – should achieve the smoothest hospital stay possible.