Butterfly houses are expanding in Australia. The Butterfly model, designed to help people living with dementia to be more relaxed and decrease the use of psychotropic medication and difficult behaviour, incorporates changes in the environment and a more inclusive approach from staff, understanding emotional intelligence, as well as giving purpose to residents living with dementia.
The Dementia Care Matters Butterfly Household Model of Care was introduced to Barrunga Village in Port Broughton, Adelaide in July 2016 and Salvation Army Aged Care Plus homes in Cairns and the ACT – the Aged Care Plus Centre in Chapel Hill, Mountainview and the Aged Care Plus Centre in Narrabundah.
Walls are painted in bright colours, as dementia patients have a diminished view of colour and this seems to also brighten the environment. There is closer interaction between staff and residents who share the space together, sharing meals and social interaction. The workers no longer have separate areas and are called house members. Medication is kept in resident’s room in a locked drawer so dispensing medication becomes a private matter. Workshops and training is given to workers to support them with tools to meaningfully engage socially with residents. Through helping out with chores around the residence, such as cleaning and gardening residents gain a sense of purpose.
Results have been positive so far, with a marked decrease in difficult behaviours, falls and need for psychotropic medication and residents are feeling more relaxed. The Salvation Army will now roll-out the Butterfly model to more of its aged care facilities across Australia.
The model was first developed in the United Kingdom and has spread to Ireland, Canada and now Australia. It is a new culture of care that comes from focussing on a model of emotional intelligence. Having worked for 20 plus years in the Aged Care field and gaining a Diploma of Aged Care, a Diploma in Diversional Therapy and a Diploma in Community Services Management I have a keen interest in any programs that assist the elderly and those with dementia gain more from life when living in aged care facilities.