Program supporting patients living with severe dementia

People living with severe dementia can access specialised care in a community living environment, under a state-first program.

The Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) was established for people experiencing severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and who require care beyond a traditional residential care facility, but don’t need to be in hospital.

It’s run in partnership between the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), SA Health and Uniting Communities.

The aim is to improve a person’s quality of life and stabilise their symptoms to enable them to transition to a less intensive setting.

Clinical Lead for Geriatric Medicine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Alice Bourke, says the new program fills a need for patients who require temporary extra care, and has benefits for all involved.

“For the person living with severe dementia, they’re able to live in a more home-like environment with the support of specialised services from CALHN, including geriatricians and nurses with specialist training in the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia,” Dr Bourke said.

“The aim is with the dementia-friendly environment, coupled with the right care and therapy, symptoms will reduce and they’ll be able to make a smooth transition to a mainstream residential care home or another suitable location.

“This is a great collaboration between Uniting Communities, SA Health and CALHN.”

The SDCP, run out of the Uniting Communities Magnolia Cottage at Aldersgate Felixstow, provides a temporary transitional home for up to eight residents, with most expected to stay for between 6-18 months. Each with their own private room and access to shared social areas and landscaped gardens.

This is a first for SA and was based on a successful model established interstate.

Patients are supported with specialist care from geriatricians, nurses and care workers, and have access to allied health services from the dedicated SDCP cottage, and can be referred from a variety of pathways to Dementia Support Australia for access to a Needs Based Assessment.

If you have any questions about the assessment process you can speak to a Dementia Support Australia Consultant on 1800 699 799 or refer to the website

The SA SDCP is a partnership between CALHN, SA Health and Uniting Communities, and is funded by the Commonwealth.