If anyone wants to really wind me up, then talk to me about an “identification scheme”! You’ll see me clench my teeth and work my way up to telling you – at length! – why identification is simply an admin tool, whereas a scheme is something entirely different.

Let’s look at the dictionary definition of the word “scheme”:

Scheme: a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining a particular object or putting a particular idea into effect.

Question: how on earth can a symbol possibly equate to a scheme? Answer: it can’t! The whole point of the Butterfly Scheme is to deliver a specific care approach and that’s achieved by having … well, yes – a systematic plan for attaining a particular object

People eligible to use the Scheme can choose – or their advocate can choose on their behalf – to use the Butterfly symbol as a request for that specific care approach. The symbol is simply a trigger; in itself, it can’t improve care – and could, in fact, affect care negatively if the staff seeing it haven’t been given positive approaches to use. The delivery of the care approach depends on very targeted, achievable education and a structure for delivering and maintaining it. That’s why it’s called The Butterfly SCHEME and not simply the Butterfly symbol!

I’m concerned that the pandemic has, in some places, set back the standard of dementia care significantly. It takes a lot of effort to rebuild a whole-hospital dementia care approach and amid all the post-pandemic rebuilding, some hospitals have reduced or lost their focus on dementia care standards. When a new Lead comes into place and contacts me about an “identification scheme”, my heart sinks, because they really are totally missing the point.

People with dementia deserve appropriate care from every member of staff they meet. It’s not enough to simply know the person has dementia or a similar condition; it’s the care approach that comes with that which makes all the difference.

The Butterfly symbol represents a person’s request for very specific care – and they receive that when staff are delivering a scheme, not just a symbol.