Care model behind TV documentary ‘Dementiaville’ showcased at CC Live

The man behind the pioneering model of care for people with dementia will outline how it works and its benefits at November's event in London

Photo: British Royal Legion

The philosophy of care showcased in Channel 4 documentary Dementiaville will be on show at this year’s Community Care Live in London this November.

Dementia Care Matters chief executive David Sheard, who was series consultant for the documentary screened earlier this year, will be outlining the concept behind the Butterfly Household Model of Care at this year’s event.

The session will also include contributions from professionals who have implemented the model.

No them and us

The key principles behind the model are:

  • There is no ‘them and us’ so all barriers between staff and residents are removed, for example, staff don’t wear uniforms; there are no drug trolleys or ‘chemical coshes’; and no separate dining, staff and residents eat together like a family.
  • Care homes are broken up into households, each with a front door, so that people don’t have free access to the whole home.
  • People with different stages of dementia aren’t mixed together, so each household is dedicated to working with people at particular stages. This decreases stress for residents.
  • Family-like care is created by filling each household with things from residents’ pasts such as  jobs and where they have lived, just like an average home. By having items around the home residents will create their own activities.
  • Accept people as they are, don’t try to fix them. So if, for example, an 80-year-old woman talks about picking her children up from school, go with her reality. “She’s saying that she needs to be needed as she used to be,” says Sheard, speaking to Community Care ahead of the event. “You need to give them the feeling that their past identity and role gave them.”

Butterfly transformation

Sheard explains the thinking behind calling the model ‘butterfly’: “Like the insect, the model is transformational. You start with a chrysalis which turns into a butterfly which can be a metaphor for the change in care, as well as the fact that this approach allows care workers and nurses to create colour in people’s lives.

And just like a butterfly becomes alive when it emerges from the chrysalis, so can people with dementia if you reach their spirit inside.”

Transforming a care home into a Butterfly Care Home is a one-year project. Currently there are over 100 in the UK, three in Canada, and Sheard is in discussions in Australia.

As well as Sheard explaining the belief system behind the model to delegates at Community Care Live, the manager and activities co-ordinator from Poppy Lodge – who appeared in the first episode of Dementiaville along with residents including Les Hadley (pictured above) – will talk about their experiences of becoming a Butterfly Care Home.

Asked how it changes residents’ lives, Sheard says: “One care worker said that before they used the approach, residents would either just be sitting down or pacing around, but now those behaviours have disappeared. She said ‘they have come alive and have turned into lovely people who feel like your family’.”

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