I get really wound up when people talk about “identification schemes”. Identification is an admin tool, nothing more; it’s what an identifier triggers that might, or might not, deserve the description of a “scheme”. In the case of the Butterfly Scheme, the symbol triggers a very specific care approach – and that care approach is the actual scheme; the symbol is only a means to that end.

It was both upsetting and frustrating this month to receive an email from a lady whose mother had been in hospital on two occasions and had “a butterfly symbol”, which she had wrongly presumed meant her mum should be receiving the Butterfly Scheme care approach – but it transpired that that particular butterfly had nothing at all to do with the scheme. The care described was absolutely inappropriate to someone living with dementia and some of the stories were heartbreaking, not least that the more upset and frightened the lady’s mum had become, the more she was described as being “aggressive”.

The Butterfly Scheme’s symbol is protected and may be used only via member healthcare teams. The official symbol has three shaded stripes of blue, deepening towards the edges of the wings; an outline of the same butterfly is used for some patients, but the outline is still blue and the shape is identical. The company which provides the scheme’s ready-made signage will only supply to bona fide members.

If you are offered the Butterfly Scheme, you should in any case be given a printed Butterfly Scheme Patient and Carer leaflet, or handed a laminated version of that to read, so that you know what to expect. The symbol will always be as shown above and in the logo; no other butterfly symbol has any connection with the Butterfly Scheme – so whatever any other butterfly brings, it won’t be the same as the care approach used throughout the Butterfly Scheme. That’s not to say it won’t be excellent, or that the scheme itself is totally without the odd delivery blip– but that the only symbol connected with the Butterfly Scheme is the one in the logo. If you’re not sure whether a symbol belongs to the scheme, please ask the ward team – and if you have any concerns at all about the scheme itself, the champions on the ward will definitely want to support you, so please do speak with them.