Time and time again, I’m contacted by people who want to bring in a symbol “to improve care”. I always begin by asking what they have in mind to improve that care and they’re often bewildered, as if they’ve just said what they’re doing, ie bringing in a symbol!

I then go on to explain the education programme and integrated support structure that the Butterfly Scheme brings to healthcare teams in order that the care they deliver brings an improvement in safety and experience to the patient and carer – then I go on to say that the symbol is the trigger that prompts all (educated) staff to deliver that specific care approach. That’s all a symbol, is – a trigger; in itself, it most certainly doesn’t improve care and could, in fact, worsen it if staff have negative ideas and experiences around dementia. 

Once I explain that a great deal of research and work needs to go into creating, structuring and delivering the education involved, most people then realise that it’s a very different situation from the one they’d imagined. That’s the problem when people don’t do their research; they hear that a system of care works and that it uses a symbol – and they somehow put two and two together, make at least five (!) and imagine that the symbol is what’s improved the care! 

There is no magic wand for improving dementia care. What it takes is a structured educational approach, structured support in maintaining that education and blooming hard work on the part of a dedicated dementia care leadership team! My congratulations and admiration always go to those fabulous teams who have this totally nailed; they are a shining beacon of hope and they show the world what’s possible. More importantly, they’re making a massive difference to patients and families. Magnificent!