Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP)

The SDCP funds specialist dementia care units in residential aged care homes. The units provide specialised care to people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. They aim to reduce or stabilise symptoms so that people can transition into less intensive care settings.

About the program

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.


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, Dementia Support Australia and their 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 are 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.

Why it is 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. It’s important to help aged care services develop best practice care for all people with dementia.


A person is eligible for SDCP 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.

Referring someone to the SDCP

The Needs Based Assessment provides a nationally consistent referral pathway and eligibility assessment for the SDCP. It is conducted by Dementia Support Australia.

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

Referrals are open for all the units in operation.

To find out more about the eligibility requirements and the Needs Based Assessment process, please visit the Dementia Support Australia website.

Locations of the SDCP Units

There are 12 operational SDCP units across Australia with an additional 7 SDCP units expected to become operational in 2023 and early 2024.

Western Australia

Brightwater Care Group, The Village, Inglewood

Hall and Prior, McDougall Park- anticipated operational date January 2024


HammondCare, Caulfield

Wintringham, McLean Lodge Hostel, Flemington

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

Barwon Health, Geelong – anticipated operational date October 2023

Blue Cross, Broughtonlea – anticipated operational date December 2023

South Australia

Uniting Communities Inc, Aldersgate, Felixstow

HammondCare Repat Health Precinct, Daw Park - anticipated operational date July 2023

Australian Capital Territory

Uniting Church In Australia, Uniting Eabrai, Wilkinson Cottage, Weston

Uniting Church In Australia, Uniting Eabrai, Richards Cottage, Weston

New South Wales

HammondCare, Cardiff

HammondCare, Southwood

HammondCare, Horsley - anticipated operational date August 2023

HammondCare, Erina - anticipated operational date August 2023


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

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

Good Shepherd Lodge Ltd, Good Shepherd Lodge, Mackay


Glenview Community Services Inc, Glenorchy - anticipated operational date October 2023

We aim to establish 35 SDCP units nationally, with a unit in each of the 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) regions.

SDCP Information Booklet

The Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) Information Booklet provides detailed information for families, carers and those looking for specialised care and support options for people who may be exhibiting very severe behaviours associated with their dementia. The booklet provides an overview of the key features of the SDCP including program eligibility, referral requirements and where to go to for support.

Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) – Information Booklet

The Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) Information Booklet provides information for families and carers looking for specialised dementia care support services. The booklet includes an overview of program eligibility and referral requirements and where to go to for further dementia support.

How the SDCP works

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, generally up to 12 months.

When a person no longer needs the specialist care, SDCP providers will 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.

Applying for funding as a provider

Future funding rounds for the SDCP are expected over the next two years with approved residential aged care providers invited to apply. Further details on the grant and application process can be found by searching Specialist Dementia Care Program GO5304 on GrantConnect.

Register on GrantConnect for automatic emails about new SDCP grant opportunities.

Who we work with

The Department of Health and Aged Care 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.
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