It was a pleasure this month to welcome another private hospital into the Butterfly Scheme – King Edward VII’s Hospital in London. The scheme was initially designed for NHS hospitals, but it’s great to see independent providers fully considering their dementia care – and the King Edward VII launch really was an excellent day of multi-role involvement and interaction.

Meanwhile, there have been some interesting interactions with carers. I love to hear from people whose family members or friends have made use of the scheme – and I love the fact that many of them speak to me as a fellow-carer, rather than simply as the scheme’s founder. Tying together some of those messages this month has been the theme of immediate delivery of the scheme upon arrival at ED / A and E; many of the scheme’s hospitals already have this in place, but some are still working towards that goal.

One carer had experienced scheme delivery in ED but upon transfer to a ward, there had been over an hour’s delay in getting all the details transferred. That, of course, is an internal matter, rather than a general scheme issue; it transpired that the transfer had happened bang on shift handover time. What delighted me about that message was that a few years ago, carers would have been delighted to find any appropriate dementia care approach, but now expectations have risen – rightly so – and the hospitals are really keen to meet those new expectations.

Another query about ED came from a wonderfully positive carer, who has a great hospital nearby which delivers the scheme well, but hasn’t yet got it in ED. She contacted me to see whether she might have a Butterfly to place on her husband’s walking aid – or maybe a keyring? I could completely understand her perspective: surely (she thought), if people see the symbol, they’ll know what to do? That’s what carers often think – because they themselves now know what to do and it seems so obvious! ED teams, however, need education about the scheme before they can deliver it; the care approach needs to be consistent. Before that hospital introduces the scheme into ED, the ED team will be fully inducted.

That query, however raised another issue: any identifier needs to be reliable. I would never allow the scheme’s symbol to be used unless it was going to bring the associated care; for that, clear communication systems need to be in place. We can’t leave dementia care to chance, however keen we are to try to get there more quickly. This lady fully understood, once I’d explained that the communication structures need to be watertight – and she’s now working with the local Butterfly Scheme Lead to help inform future practice.

So, to all carers out there: keep letting me know your thoughts – and thank you so much for all the positive and constructive feedback you’re sharing with Butterfly Scheme Leads in your local hospital clinic, nursing team or hospice. Teamwork!