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Improving care and support for people with dementia


Scotland's latest Dementia Champions and Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads graduate at national conference

Today 147 Dementia Champions and 38 Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads (DSIL) will graduate at a ceremony in Edinburgh. The national conference and graduation is co-hosted by Scottish Government, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Alzheimer Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland (NES). 

As well as including nurses and allied health professionals from acute general hospitals and social service staff, Cohort 8 Dementia Champions also includes staff from the Scottish Ambulance Service, community hospitals and the first participant from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. 

The Dementia Champions programme now boasts more than 850 graduates from a range of disciplines across a variety of services and settings, all prepared to:

  • lead front line improvements in dementia care
  • sustain change in their area
  • cascade information and education about dementia to other staff.

The second cohort of the Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads (DSIL) includes allied health professionals and staff working in the care home sector. The total number of staff who have completed the DSIL programme is 68. 

Improving the care and experience of people with dementia in general hospitals, other hospital and care settings remains a priority in Scotland’s Third National Dementia Strategy. The Dementia Champions and Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads initiatives form part of a wider NES/SSSC Promoting Excellence workforce development programme. 

Scottish Government Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said:

“Scotland’s Dementia Champions play a vital role in ensuring that staff across acute NHS care and other settings can meet the needs of people with dementia and give them excellent care and support. 

“Improving the quality of care, treatment and support for people with dementia in Scotland is at the heart our third national dementia strategy.” 

Henry Simmons, Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland said:

“Alzheimer Scotland has been extremely privileged and proud to work with our partners in NES, the SSSC, the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and the Scottish Government to develop and deliver the Dementia Champions programme since its earliest days and we are delighted to welcome this eighth cohort of graduates. Their work has had a profound impact on standards of healthcare for people with dementia, in acute hospitals and many other settings. In addition, we are extremely pleased to see a second cohort of Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads, who play a vital role in improving standards of dementia care within Scotland’s mental health services. Their work will support people with dementia who have particularly complex needs. That support has never been more necessary. At a time when our Health and Social Care system is under such significant pressures, with multiple demands, it is extremely reassuring to see the dedication and commitment of all those graduating today and it is important to note the commitment from all of their organisations to continue to support the dementia knowledge and skills of their staff.” 

Cohort 9 of the programme for another 100 champions commences later this month and Scottish Government has approved funding for Cohort 10 for 2019. 


Reference: PR2018-005


Further Information From

Mary-Jo O’Brien, Corporate Communications, NHS Education for Scotland, email

Lorraine Wakefield, Senior Communications Officer, Scottish Social Services Council, email

Elaine Nixon, PR Manager, Alzheimer Scotland, email

Simon Ebbett, Senior Media Manager, Scottish Government, email


Note to Editors

  1. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is a national special health board working to provide education, training and workforce development for those who work in and with NHSScotland. At any time, this means NES is responsible for over 6,500 trainee healthcare professionals and supports the recruitment of professionals into Scotland.
  2. The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is the regulator for the social service workforce in Scotland. Our work means the people of Scotland can count on social services being provided by a trusted, skilled and confident workforce
  3. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Alzheimer Scotland deliver the Dementia Champions programme on behalf of NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
  4. The Dementia Champions programme is designed using a blended learning approach, delivered over a 6-month period and involves:
  • 5 face-to-face teaching days – 3 of which are delivered on a regional basis to ensure access;
  • Supported ‘on line’ learning activities;
  • A 1-day placement in a community setting supporting people with dementia (often an Alzheimer Scotland service) which enables participants to engage with and understand the strengths of assets of people with dementia and families and carers.
  • Completion of 3 marked assignments which are focussed on a ‘supporting change’ approach, developed as part of the programme, and centred on bringing about local positive changes during the course of the programme.

5.The Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads programme is an 18-month programme designed to grow capacity and capability in specialist mental health services to support implementation of Promoting Excellence and the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland. 

The programme includes a number of ‘training for trainers’ programmes including:

  • Change management, training and facilitation skills
  • Stress and distress in dementia.
  • Meeting the needs of people with dementia with complex physical health care needs.
  • Palliative and end of life care in dementia
  • Pharmacological care in dementia

The programme also offers various leadership development opportunities via Master classes and action learning.

6. Four case studies featuring two Dementia Champions and two Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads are available on request.