Specialist Dementia Care Program

Page last updated: 06 December 2018

Specialist Dementia Care Program

Overview

The Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) is a new Australian Government initiative. The program will provide a person-centred, multidisciplinary approach to care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, who are unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream aged care services. The program will offer specialised, transitional residential support, focussing on reducing or stabilising symptoms over time, with the aim of enabling people to move to less intensive care settings.

When will the SDCP commence?

The Australian Government will advertise a targeted prototype SDCP service in 2018 ahead of competitive selection processes for remaining services.  The prototype service will test the model and may work with the Department of Health to refine elements of the model as needed to best meet the needs of the target group. Following establishment of the prototype service, the department will advertise grant opportunities for 14 specialist dementia care units in early 2019, with the first units operational in 2020. A second funding round for 20 units will follow in 2021-22. The department will inform the aged care sector and update this webpage as grant opportunities become available. Grant opportunities will also published on GrantConnect.

Target group

The SDCP will provide care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (which may also be referred to as responsive behaviours associated with dementia), who are unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream aged care services. It is estimated that up to 1 per cent of all people living with dementia would be in the target group. A nationally consistent assessment methodology will be used for all assessments to ensure the program benefits those most in need.

Key features of the SDCP

The SDCP provides a new approach to care and will be rolled out in two phases. The department will work with key stakeholders to evaluate and refine the model as it rolls out nationally, to ensure the model provides optimal care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

The SDCP will provide intensive, specialised care in a dementia friendly environment, generally a dedicated unit within a broader residential aged care service. The SDCP will provide transitional support with the aim of enabling people to move to less intensive care settings. Specialist clinical support will be a key feature of the model. The SDCP will complement state and territory government services and supports for people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Locations

At full rollout in 2022-23 it is expected that there will be at least one specialist dementia care unit (within a broader residential aged care service) operating in each of the 31 Primary Health Networks.

Relationship to other programs

The SDCP will operate as the ‘third tier’ of Australian Government-funded support for people with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, complementing the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) and Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs).

One of the objectives of the SDCP is to generate evidence on best practice care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia that can be adapted for use in mainstream settings to benefit all people with dementia.

Further information

Specialist Dementia Care Program service delivery principles

Specialist Dementia Care Program framework

Australian Government programs to support people living with dementia, and their support networks