Dementia – The Butterfly Household Approach

Dementia – The Butterfly Household Approach

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Starting tonight on Channel 4 is a new three part series which examines methods of caring for those with dementia.

Starting tonight on Channel 4 is a new three part series which examines methods of caring for those with dementia. Dementiaville will follow the care of dementia patients in a progressive care home, those who are looked after by their families, and will also investigate the effect of dementia within marriages.

The first episode follows some of the residents at the Poppy Lodge, a dementia care unit located at the Galanos House care home. Poppy Lodge was created three years ago, and uses modern methods in the care offered to its 30 residents, all of whom have dementia and an association with the armed forces.

Poppy Lodge focuses on using the Butterfly Household Model of Care, which is used in over 100 care homes across the UK, to treat the patients housed there. This model of care is different to the techniques most commonly used and understood, and its use with dementia patients has been labelled as controversial.

Those with dementia often encounter difficulty when remembering recent events, making their memories from their younger years feel like their most recent. This means that they are essentially living in the past, often to referring to outdated things, or believing that family and friends who have passed away are still alive. At many care homes, the procedure is to correct the resident when they make errors of these types, and try to bring them back to the present day.

However, care homes that use the Butterfly Household Model of Care, such as the Poppy Lodge, instead do not correct the patient in their belief that past memories are current reality. Instead, the staff endeavour to embrace what the patient believes to be true.

The model is believed to be beneficial to dementia sufferers, and is said to improve their well-being. As they are not being told that they are in the wrong regarding certain memories, their anxiety is reduced. Often, when a dementia patient is corrected, they can get very upset or even angry, and become a danger to themselves or to those caring for them. With this method, the patients are kept as happy and calm as possible.

The program focuses on some of the residents of Poppy Lodge, such as Les Hadley, who is suffering from vascular dementia. He is 91 years old, however on a daily basis his memories revert back to those of his fourteen-year-old self. At the time, he worked in a car factory with his dad, and now he is often found in corridors asking people where his father is.

The staff at Poppy Lodge allow patients like Les to believe these memories, often telling him that is dad is just working a long shift. This approach means that many of the patients live in their own realities, and it is believed that keeping these memories alive helps those suffering through the more difficult moments associated with their condition.

The staff work to try and help the patients to enjoy these memories, and relive them if they believe it would help. The Activities Co-ordinator at the Lodge, Craig Edser, organises unique ways of engaging the residents. These activities include things such as chauffeur-driven rides in old-fashioned cars, special performances by the Royal Naval Association Choir and allowing a former matron to take part in simple nursing tasks with the staff.

Mr Edser said: “Each time I come into work, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to find… my job is to delve into the past lives of thirty very different human beings”.

If you are interested in developing the skills necessary to create activities for those in a social care situation, take a look at NCC’s Supporting Activity Provision in Social Care QCF course.

Dementiaville starts on Channel 4 tonight, at 9pm.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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