What is a Specialist Dementia Unit?

The majority of people with dementia can live within the community. A small percentage of people with dementia will have more complex needs which requires specialist care in a dedicated setting. Specialist Dementia Units support people with dementia to allow them to move to a community-based setting, such as their home or a care home.

In 2018, Scottish Governement commissioned an independent review, led by Alzheimer Scotland. The transforming specialist dementia hospital care: independent report, produced following the review states that there were 92 Specialist Dementia Units across Scotland. The units are funded by the NHS, and care is provided by qualified mental health staff. Care can be provided within NHS facilities or in a standalone unit. In some parts of Scotland, NHS boards have contracted a care home to provide this care.

Specialist Dementia Unit Improvement Programme

We worked with four demonstrator sites to:

  • improve the quality of care for people with dementia within Specialist Dementia Units
  • improve the knowledge of improvement methods and tools; and
  • increase confidence and resilience in using these improvement approaches to support local improvements.

The demonstrator sites were:

  • Balmore Ward, Levendale Hospital, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership
  • Orbiston Community, Hatton Lea Care Home, run by HC One and commissioned by North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership
  • Prospectbank, Findlay House, Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership
  • Strathbeg Ward, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership

This three year programme concluded in March 2019.

Our Impact

To find out about the impact of our work read the Specialist Dementia Unit Improvement Programme summary report. 

We also produced three case study films about our work. View our films to find out more about:

  • working with relatives and carers as part of improvement work
  • using observational methods to improve care for people with dementia, and
  • building a resilient team.

Dementia in hospitals improvement toolkit 

The Dementia in Hospitals Improvement Toolkit has been developed to support improvement work in hospital settings. This will be added to on an ongoing basis as we continue to share practice examples or emerging evidence from hospital teams. This includes the learning from the Dementia in Hospitals collaborative programme of work, commissioned by Scottish Government, from June 2021 to March 2023. 

Contact us

Please contact the team on the email address:

his.focusondementia@nhs.scot