First provider of Butterfly model of dementia care

Barunga Village a regional South Australian aged care facility is the first to become an accredited provider of the international ground-breaking model of dementia care in Australia.


Port Broughton’s Barunga Village underwent a grading process in early July and received the highest rating possible to become Australia’s first ‘Butterfly Home’.


The Butterfly Household Model of Care, was founded by Dr David Sheard of Dementia Care Matters (DCM) in 1995, and has since expanded to become a global dementia care culture change organisation with more than 50 Butterfly Homes around the world.


While dementia care has a history of being task orientated and institutionalised, the model sees a transformation in the way people with dementia are cared for, with a focus on their emotions, and replicating home-like environments and everyday activities they enjoyed earlier in life.


Sally Knocker, consultant trainer at DCM, graded Barunga Village, said “The core reason why Barunga Village achieved level 1, the highest rating, is because over 80% of the day showcased ‘positive social experiences’, whereas this time last year 70% of the day was spent with very little interaction,” Sally said.


“This means that people living with dementia now have a high quality of life. They are taking part in an array of activities that you and I do everyday – such as washing up after breakfast, making scones, feeding the chickens and chatting with friends and family.


“Their engagements with staff demonstrated there was no sense of ‘us and them’. The interactions were similar to how you are with your friends and family – this is a key of the model.”


Louise DeWolf, Barunga Village’s Butterfly Model coordinator, said, “The most enjoyable changes to witness have been the increase in laughter and happiness within the people living in the Butterfly Home, and their meaningful engagements with their families and our staff.”


Results in established Butterfly Homes have shown homes use of anti-psychotic medications has decreased to almost 5%, compared to the national norms that are around 20% to 40% in the UK and Australia, and a 44% decrease in the number of falls. People have also had significant weight gain and fewer admissions to hospital.”


Other key aspects of the Butterfly Model, which Barunga Village excelled in, include:

  • Removing institutional features such as staff wearing uniforms and medicine trolleys.
  • Grouping people in a focused group who are at similar levels of dementia giving them the best chance to thrive and have a sense of well being, while enabling staff to provide specialist skills.
  • A complete refurbishment of the interior spaces to ensure the rooms are colorful and highly engaging.
  • New approach to staff training, which focuses on staff developing their emotional intelligence.
  • Major change in meal times, where people in the Butterfly Home are involved in meal prep and setting the table, more food dishes are available and staff also sit at the table.
  • Staff are trained to join people living with dementia in their reality and engage with their memories, rather than constantly trying to bring them back into the present.


Each year Barunga Village will be graded by DCM to ensure the level of care continues at a high level. Two other pilot homes began the model in July 2016 - The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus Centres in Chapel Hill, Queensland, and Narrabundah, ACT.


14 July 2017.