I always enjoy teaching hospital teams, but the Butterfly Scheme launch day this month at The London Clinic was a particularly enjoyable event. 

Butterfly Scheme launch days are about getting as many hospital staff as possible through an interactive learning session which develops their insight into what it’s like to live with dementia, then takes them on to develop care skills which will better support those patients. In-house Butterfly Scheme Leads need to ensure they maximise attendance, have everything ready to support their Butterfly Scheme Champions and have the teaching location set up to best support the sessions; Leads are fully guided towards all this, but it’s always interesting to see how well they’ve actually achieved it.

At The London Clinic, the whole preparation had been faultless, which made for a day when the teaching room was constantly well-filled, the staff were ready to learn and the team could go back to their workplaces and immediately start delivering the Butterfly Scheme. The staff came from all disciplines and every last one of them seemed attentive and keen to learn – an absolute joy to teach; their immediate feedback was warm and appreciative and there was a real feeling of everyone starting together on a new path.

One sadness was that this was the final day of teaching alongside a dear and trusted colleague, Janet, who – as a volunteer and former carer of a mother with dementia – had trained to work with the Butterfly Scheme over twelve years ago and has very frequently been by my side ever since, travelling the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland with me. I wouldn’t care to guess how many miles she’s travelled for the Scheme, or how many staff she’s co-taught! Her support, input and warmth have been hugely appreciated and she long ago became a true friend. This is a good opportunity to thank her and other volunteers who have always given, and continue to give, so much in order that dementia care continues to improve.

The Butterfly Scheme has never been about money; on the contrary, it’s been about people who have travelled the carer journey, trying to help healthcare staff improve their dementia care – helping them support their patients and work with friends and family to deliver person-centred care, but at the same time increasing their own job satisfaction. Without the commitment of volunteers, so much would never have been achieved; even the finances for the Scheme have always been dealt with by a volunteer with an appropriate professional background! 

So, this month I take the opportunity to thank the team around me and the Butterfly Scheme Leads who do their very best to support their own teams – and that thank you comes not just from me, but also from all those supported by the Scheme.