The long-awaited gathering of Butterfly Scheme Leads from across the UK and Ireland – originally due to take place in Leeds in March but delayed by lockdown – finally came to fruition this month. Unable to gather in person, we agreed to go ahead in virtual format; we were unsure how two full days in front of a computer screen would feel, but it really did go well.

The Butterfly Scheme has a long history of holding gatherings regionally, where Leads from specific areas meet to collaborate on a prepared topic. Originally, the scheme was designed in conjunction with people living with dementia, their usual carers and with healthcare teams, but upon that foundation we’ve continued to build and enhance what we can offer families, by pushing the boundaries of what can be delivered in the many healthcare settings.

What the in-house Leads and I have always wanted was to gather more colleagues together at once, sharing best practice and inspiring one another to further enhance the care on offer; instead of holding one of our customary Collaborative Meetings, this would be a “Grand Collaborative”! By setting aside two whole days, we were able to cover a dozen key topics; for many of those topics, specific Leads had prepared presentations covering areas in which they excelled, including a great deal of innovative practice which has been tried and tested, so that we know it is both effective and sustainable.

After each presentation, everyone could ask further questions, throw in additional ideas and gather inspiration, knowledge and experience from teams who are achieving truly superb care. The “how-to” approach meant that everyone taking part, no matter how high their standard already was, felt ready to notch it up even further by the end of the event.

We agreed that some elements of dementia care in which we had previously had aspirations for further improvement were now ready to instead become expectations; with such passionate and able teams on board, we feel equipped to take those forward. For many of the participants, the past few months have placed them in a very different role from the one their career had led them to so far; it was very clear how much it meant to them at this moment to be in the company of others who shared their passion for dementia care, looking ahead and planning a better future.

I congratulate all the teams represented at the event and thank them again for sharing their passion and dedication.