Laura Lodge, head of the specialist dementia unit at Halsey House (photo credit Mike Harrington)

How do you take the fear out of dementia?

When you wear your poppy, you’re helping veterans living with dementia to experience ground breaking care.

Dementia is a condition that can exact a terrible toll on those living with it.

As it affects their short-term memory, they go back to the memories that resonate most strongly with them. 

Friends and family can have the feeling of losing someone who’s still physically present and try to bring them back to reality, but this can often throw those living with dementia into confusion and anxiety as they try to reconcile what they believe to be true with reality.

Previously dementia care operated in the same way, but now things are taking a different approach.

The butterfly approach

The Butterfly Approach is focused on working with how residents perceive the world. This means empowering them by giving them control over their lives and working with them to understand their individual needs.

We’ve adopted this approach across our dementia care facilities and it’s had a fantastic effect on the residents.

Bev Mumford, the Galanos garden club manager, enjoying a bumper crop with a resident

“It feels calm when you walk into Danbury Lodge – and that’s how it should be, since a chaotic care home isn’t a good one,” says Laura Lodge, manager of Danbury Lodge, Halsey House.

“Calm but not quiet, because it’s vital to keep the residents stimulated and occupied. A lot of our residents go back to the past. We had a resident here who was a nurse and that was still important to her, so I gave her a medicine trolley and a first aid kit, and she was fully occupied throughout the day wheeling it around the lodge! It’s not, ‘No, no, you’re not in the past now, come back to 2015’ – you go wherever the residents are at that time, what makes sense to them, their reality.”

"... you go wherever the residents are at that time, what makes sense to them, their reality.”

"We give true person-centred care here,” says Julie Cole, a carer at Danbury Lodge who has undertaken a dementia coaching certificate. “It’s forever changing as new people come; they have differing interests and needs, we then try to make something work for them that they are used to seeing. Every day we’ll think of different things to do.”

Another aspect is giving power back to the residents, giving them input into how the dementia care homes are run. At Poppy Lodge, the Legion’s dementia care facility at Galanos House, there is always a resident present during job interviews for new staff members.

During Craig Edser’s interview for the role of handyman, the residents were so impressed with him that they suggested that he be given the role of Activities Co-ordinator. Craig has become part of the family, connecting with the residents with his personal approach.

The Legion’s approach to dementia care was recently featured in a Channel 4 documentary called Dementiaville, broadcast in June 2015, which featured Galanos House. A clip from the programme can be viewed here

Danbury Lodge carer Julia Cole in the garden with a resident (photo credit Mike Harrington)


Dementia is an increasing concern in the UK due to an ageing population. It is particularly relevant to the ex-Service community as it is increasing in age.

Legion research shows that in 2005 roughly 28 percent of the ex-Service community was over 75 or over but by 2014, had increased to 46 percent (Household Survey 2014). The Alzheimer’s Society quotes that one in six people aged over 80 have dementia with only 44% of people with dementia receiving a diagnosis.

The effects of dementia aren't just limited to those living with dementia. Around 150,000 members of the ex-Service community have an unpaid caring responsibility for someone living with dementia. Services like our community dementia nurse service, delivered by Admiral Nurses, in partnership with Dementia UK, to support these carers are becoming increasingly important.

support the poppy appeal

Helping us to provide ground-breaking care for veterans living with dementia, giving them back dignity and purpose, is just one of the reasons to wear a poppy each November.

There are thousands of other stories behind the poppy. Please share them to show people how The Royal British Legion poppy is both a symbol of Remembrance and one of hope for our recent veterans and serving men, women and their families.

Explore other ways the poppy helps to support our Armed Forces community.

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