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Butterfly Scheme offers additional support for patients with memory problems

Thursday, 26 May 2016

An initiative designed to offer additional support to patients with memory problems – particularly those with dementia – has been introduced at Noble’s Hospital.

The Butterfly Scheme was designed by the carer of someone with dementia over a period of two years with insight from hundreds of people with the condition, as well as carers and healthcare professionals.  The scheme is now in use in over 150 hospitals throughout the UK. 

A patient, a family member or carer chooses to opt-in, which means a discreet butterfly is put next to the patient’s name on their notes to indicate to medical and nursing staff – at a glance – that the patient requires extra help and time because of memory difficulties.

This help can be simple things like giving additional reassurance and taking extra time to explain a procedure – such as taking blood pressure – and then explaining it again, each and every time blood pressure is taken.


Family members and carers also have a vital role in ensuring that care can be personalised.  A ‘This is me’ form, developed by the Alzheimer’s Society, is completed so that care can be tailored to meet specific needs wherever possible.  The form captures invaluable information on the preferences, likes/dislikes, and routine of the individual with memory problems so these can be built-in to their hospital stay to offer additional familiarity and comfort.

Senior Nurse in the Patient Safety and Governance Directorate at Noble’s Hospital, Cathie Quine, said: “The aim is simple: to make a stay in hospital less of a jarring and daunting experience for people with memory problems.  Wards can be busy environments with a mix of patients who have very different needs.  We know that people with memory problems can find it more difficult to cope with a hospital stay, so it is vital that we are able to offer these individuals additional support.”

Education and training for all care professionals underpins the Butterfly Scheme, ensuring staff are fully supported and equipped to respond in a specific and consistent way that accommodates the additional needs of people with memory problems.

The scheme has been launched in collaboration with the Isle of Man branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, which has generously supported Noble’s Hospital with the funding to get the scheme up and running.

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