Osler Adopts Butterfly Approach to Dementia Care

Caring for older adults with dementia can be demanding, especially among patients who require acute care in hospital.  Meeting the physical and emotional needs of elderly people living with dementia while in hospital is complex, and a new model of care  – The Butterfly Approach, is a ground-breaking person-centred mode that delivers acute health care with compassion and innovation to meet the unique needs of dementia patients. 

According to a recent William Osler Health System Newsletter, the Acute Care of the Elderly Unit (ACE) at Osler’s Brampton Civic Hospital is the first to implement The Butterfly Approach in a hospital setting.  The model of care is patient and emotion-based, focused on delivering care for patients living with dementia in a dignified way that tends to emotional as well as physical needs. 

By creating an environment that is safer, and also warmer and more engaging to dementia patients, care involves the whole person.  The ACE unit is brightly decorated with interactive stations that help to stimulate the patient’s mind using games, puzzles, books and other activities. Research has demonstrated that patient outcomes significantly improve with the implementation of this approach to care, reducing agitation and boosting mental and physical well-being. 

Creating common areas that are more home-like offers patients places of comfort and opportunities to connect with objects, textures and colours that reflect their life experiences and inner world. Meaningful activities with caregivers might include creating an art project, walking outdoors, reading a book of poetry together, or listening to music. 

It is expected that with current population trends, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of Canadian seniors over the next 8 years – and the region Osler serves expects a growth rate three times the provincial average.  By implementing changes in hospital dementia care, based on The Butterfly Approach, developed by Meaningful Care Matters based in the United Kingdom, Osler hopes to revolutionize person-centred acute care for patients with dementia.