What is the SDCP?

The SDCP supports people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia who cannot be cared for in a mainstream residential aged care facility.

The SDCP provides specialised care for people:

  • who live with very severe dementia complicated by physical aggression or other behaviours
  • whose residential care facility or carers cannot manage the behaviours, even with help from other services

The SDCP provides:

  • person-centred care from staff with dementia training
  • support from specialist services
  • a small, cottage-like, dementia-friendly living environment

What are the goals of the SDCP?

The program aims to:

  • provide best-practice care, without restraints, in a dementia-friendly environment
  • reduce or stabilise a person’s behavioural and psychological symptoms within 12 months, on average
  • support the person’s move into less intensive care settings when they no longer need SDCP care
  • work alongside state and territory government services, the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, and Severe Behaviour Response Teams
  • improve quality of life for people living with very severe dementia

Living environments can have a big impact on quality of life for people living with dementia. SDCP units will be designed to:

  • be tailored to people living with very severe dementia
  • promote familiarity, stimulation and independence
  • reduce risks

The SDCP works with key stakeholders to:

  • assess and refine the SDCP model
  • make sure the model provides the best possible care for people who have very severe dementia symptoms
  • form relationships with local health networks, acute mental health services and allied health services
  • draw on these relationships for expertise for clinical guidance and support when needed

By 2022–23, we expect to have at least one SDCP unit in each of the 31 Primary Health Network regions.

Why is the SDCP important?

We estimate that up to 1% of all people living with dementia:

  • have very severe behavioural or psychological symptoms
  • cannot be cared for in mainstream aged care services

It’s important we have services that can meet their specialised needs to:

  • help reduce and stabilise severe symptoms of dementia
  • improve their quality of life and independence

The number of people with dementia is rising in Australia. So it’s also important to help aged care services develop best practice care for all people with dementia.

Where are the SDCP units?

Prototype unit

In September 2019, we set up an SDCP unit at Brightwater Care Group’s The Village. The Village is a residential aged care facility in Inglewood, Perth. This prototype SDCP unit will help us to improve the program model.

Units from the first funding round

We held our first funding round in April and May 2019. The successful applicants will open SDCP units in the regions below.


Primary Health Network


Start date

New South Wales

Hunter New England and Central Coast

HammondCare Cardiff

January 2020


South Eastern Melbourne

HammondCare Caulfield

January 2020


North Western Melbourne

Wintringham, McLean Lodge Hostel, Flemington

August 2020


North Western Melbourne

Villa Maria Catholic Homes, St Bernadette’s Residential Aged Care Facility, Sunshine North

August 2020

South Australia


Uniting Communities Inc, Aldersgate, Felixstow

April 2020

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory

Uniting Church In Australia, Uniting Eabrai, Weston

July 2020


Brisbane North

Corp. of the Synod of Brisbane, St Martin’s Nursing Home

July 2020


Brisbane South

Alzheimer’s Association of Queensland Inc, Garden City Aged Care Service, Upper Mt Gravatt

March 2020


North Queensland

Good Shepherd Lodge Ltd, Good Shepherd Lodge, Mackay

July 2020

Other units

The South Australian Government will set up another unit at the Repat site in South Australia. They will operate the unit in partnership with HammondCare, who was selected through an expression of interest run by the South Australian Government. We expect this unit to be operational in 2021.

A second funding round for the remaining units will follow in 2021–22.

Who is eligible?

A person is eligible if:

  • they have dementia
  • they have very severe behavioural or psychological symptoms of dementia, which may include:
    • aggression
    • severe agitation
    • vocalisation, such as talking constantly, cursing or screaming
    • severe depression or anxiety
    • being suicidal
  • the behaviours have lasted at least 3 months
  • other specialist services have not been able to reduce the behaviours
  • they have had an ACAT assessment

How do you refer someone to the SDCP?

Before you refer someone to a unit, find out about the entry requirements on the Dementia Support Australia website.

Anyone can make a referral by using the Dementia Support Australia referral form.

Referrals are now open for all of the Phase 1 units.

How does the SDCP work?

Program framework

Specialist Dementia Care Program Framework

This framework provides an overview of the Specialist Dementia Care Program’s model of care, service delivery principles, administration, roles and responsibilities. This framework may change as the program progresses.

Length of stay, fees and security of tenure

The length of stay in an SDCP unit varies for each person. It will usually be for up to 12 months.

When a person no longer needs the specialist care, SDCP providers must plan and support the person’s move into a less intensive care setting. Generally, this will be a bed within the provider’s facility. It depends on what the person or their representative wants. SDCP fees are the same as residential aged care fees.

To find out more, read this fact sheet.

Specialist Dementia Care Program – Length of Stay, Fees and Security of Tenure

This fact sheet sets out what must happen when a person enters a Specialist Dementia Care Program unit. It includes how long a stay can be and the fees and charges that apply. It also outlines what happens when they are ready to leave the unit.

How do providers apply for funding?

We will hold a second funding round for more units in 2021–22. We will let the aged care sector know when this happens and publish the details on GrantConnect.

Register on GrantConnect for automatic emails about new grant opportunities.

Who works with us on the SDCP?

The Department of Health develops program policy and manages the funding for the program.

A partnership agreement between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments provides the clinical support for the program.

Approved residential aged care providers can apply for program grants to set up units in their facility.


Specialist Dementia Care Program contact

If you have questions about the Specialist Dementia Care Program, contact the Specialist Dementia Care Section.

SDCP [at] health.gov.au

View contact

Last updated: 
6 July 2020