In hospital, dozens of staff pass – often very quickly – through a patient’s life every day. Some will be aware of the patient’s memory status, but even those who are aware of it often don’t realise that their words and actions are inappropriate – and possibly even dangerous – to a person with dementia.

Inappropriate dementia care routinely results in greatly extended length of stay, but how can hospital staff automatically know how to respond to someone with dementia? The answer, of course, is that they can’t automatically know – but the Butterfly Scheme has developed a successful way of sharing carer expertise and insight with all staff who take over that care in hospital, very quickly building up their dementia care skills.

Created by a carer, the Butterfly Scheme is rapidly spreading as hospitals hear from one another how it has created real enthusiasm for dementia care amongst staff using it. Hospital staff want to be able to offer good dementia care and the Butterfly Scheme makes that possible in the most practical and collaborative way

Who is it for?

The Butterfly Scheme allows people whose memory is permanently affected by dementia to make this clear to hospital staff and provides staff with a simple, practical strategy for meeting their needs. The patients receive more effective and appropriate care, reducing their stress levels and increasing their safety and well-being, and staff are happier, too. One of those rare situations where something that’s great for the patient is also great for the staff!

What does the scheme involve?

  • This is an opt-in scheme, albeit with an opt-in rate very near 100%; it empowers people with dementia and their carers to choose the care they want
  • Eligible patients, assisted by their carer, can choose to use a Butterfly symbol to request  the scheme’s care response from the staff team
  • Those staff – whatever their role – have been taught essential skills to allow them to care well for these patients; because all staff meeting patients need to have those skills, the scheme is delivered across all roles in a hospital
  • Family and friends are invited to fill in a carer sheet, offering hints and tips which will make life easier for the patient and also for the staff caring for them; the carer sheet sits firmly within the Butterfly Scheme’s system and the scheme encourages partnership working

A three-part scheme:

  1. At-a-glance discreet identification via the Butterfly symbol is available for hospital patients who have dementia-related memory impairment and wish staff to be aware of it

  2. All staff who interact with patients are trained to offer a specific five-point targeted response

  3. The Butterfly alerts all staff to the existence of an easy-to-use carer sheet

Only member hospitals can offer the Butterfly Scheme. The Butterfly Scheme is certainly not just a case of using a butterfly symbol; it’s a fully integrated scheme which teaches staff a targeted care response to offer to eligible patients and which provides all the support and materials the hospital needs to implement and run the scheme. If you find anyone misrepresenting the scheme anywhere, please do let us know; we pride ourselves on the scheme’s reputation.