Huge congratulations this month to Butterfly Scheme Lead Chris O’Connor and the team at East Surrey Hospital, winners of the 2019 award for Best Dementia-Friendly Hospital! Since Chris’s arrival at the Trust, I’ve seen just how much he’s achieved and how many initiatives he’s seen through to sustainable success. One example of team-wide dementia care engagement has been that staff from a whole range of disciplines have come forward to create posters, inviting people in their own ways to ask about the Butterfly Scheme – in many cases themselves featuring in a photo on the finished poster. Very special!

Over the years, Chris and I have liaised many times on a range of dementia care-related topics, as Chris has explored further opportunities to enhance care delivery. What’s striking, too, is that once he’s achieved success in a particular area, he’s always willing to link with other teams who are trying to make progress in those fields – helping them make improvements, too; there will be many other teams applauding the East Surrey team’s success in the National Dementia Care awards, because they know just how much is being achieved there and how that’s being harnessed to help the wider cause.

I’m a linguist by background and I often smile when someone’s described as being fluent in a language; linguists only regard themselves as fluent when they can use the foreign language exactly as they use their own, whereas those with less linguistic insight might regard conversational competence as fluency. I think there’s a parallel here with excellent dementia care leadership; those who are achieving really great things are often the least likely to regard their achievements as exemplary, because their standards are so high that they’re constantly looking to improve further. Acknowledging dementia care achievement doesn’t, however, translate into complacency; it’s simply a way of acknowledging the best that is being achieved right now, but most definitely with a view to further improvement.

I look forward to seeing what further enhancements to dementia care Chris and the East Surrey team come up with, but for now I simply congratulate them again on a well-deserved award.