When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it can be a frightening time for that person and their family.
At some point, they might not be able to live independently and finding the right care home is a very important decision to take.
Two years ago, Guild Care opened Haviland House, which is a care home in Worthing that is entirely devoted to supporting people living with dementia. It has recently adopted the ‘butterfly approach’ which has been developed by Dementia Care Matters.
Chris Walton-Turner, manager of Haviland House, said: “We all live in the moment – moments matter. For everyone with or without a dementia all we have is now.
“We cannot yet fix dementia as a condition but we can fix our approach. Showing people living with a dementia that we know their feelings matter most can transform lives.
“Dementia Care Matters has developed an approach using the metaphor of a butterfly. Staff who ‘get it’, know in their heart that quality of life matters. They learn how to look, sound and feel like butterflies at work.
“Being natural in dementia care involves flitting between people, being still, connecting, creating colour and changing moments.”
Haviland House comprises five ‘households’ for up to 12 people. Each supports a different stage of dementia. Staff do not wear uniforms and the living environment has been made to look less sterile and much more like a home.
Chris added: “So while Haviland House is a home for life, someone coming to live here may move from one household to another depending on the progression of their dementia.
“We are all on this journey together and we want to ensure that Haviland House provides a friendly and homely environment that makes more sense to the people who live here.
“The butterfly approach is a different way of supporting people living with dementia which puts the person at the centre and which we believe makes a real difference to their well-being.”
Gary Potter, a butterfly homemaker at Haviland House, spent 20 years in IT management before moving into the healthcare sector.
He said working in a care home like Haviland House is all about connecting with people.
“The ability to connect in a meaningful way with people is very important. You also need to be enthusiastic and have lots of energy both physical and mental.
“Working in this environment means you need to be able to be open-minded to change as every day can be different.
“The best thing about working here is the job satisfaction – just getting a smile from one of our family members really makes my day. Knowing that you’ve made people happy and made a positive difference to their day is really rewarding.”
If you would like to find out more about working with people living with dementia, are flexible in your approach and demonstrate an awareness of what matters in life, then you could be one of Guild Care’s butterflies.
The charity is currently looking for butterfly care and support workers and is holding a Recruitment Open Day at Haviland House, Robin Road, Worthing, on Tuesday, July 4, from 11am to 3pm. Contact the team by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01903 863154 for an informal chat.
Guild Care also provides services to people with dementia and their carers who are still living in the community.
The Bradbury Wellbeing Centre offers a range of specialist services which include day respite at The Butterfly Club.
Time Out for Carers offers relatives the chance to have time to themselves, in the safe knowledge that their loved one is being looked after.
Time Out Together is a social evening where people with dementia and their families can come together and enjoy live entertainment.