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Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice

Vision: To be a centre of excellence advancing dementia policy and practice through education, applied research and social enterprise.

Mission: To work collaboratively with people with dementia and carers, the scientific and practice communities to advance evidence informed dementia policy and practice.

Our work focuses on three key activities:

  • Applied research for policy and practice
  • Education to promote evidence informed practice
  • Policy influencing and implementation

At the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice (ASCPP) we believe that people with dementia deserve high quality care. We know that this is possible when:

  • Practitioners have enhanced dementia knowledge and practical skills
  • When enlightened policies are put into practice
  • When society respects the rights of people with dementia
  • When we work in partnership with people with dementia, their family and friends

Download the 2020 ASCPP Annual Report (pdf)

The report was featured in an article on the Daily Record website focusing on the inspiring story of Mairi Louise Houldsworth who is recognised within the report. Read more here

Alzheimer Scotland Centre Team 2019

Professional Development and educational opportunities

We offer a range of masterclasses and bespoke CPD aligned to the skilled and enhanced levels of the Promoting Excellence Framework. These programmes are designed and delivered by our team of award winning dementia educators and practice experts. Please speak with us and we will do our best to support your dementia education needs.

Our areas of speciality include evidence based contemporary dementia care, positive approaches to eating, drinking and personal care, working with stress and distress, advanced dementia care, complementary approaches, meaningful activities and supporting people with dementia to live the best life possible.

Our approach support learners to connect with older people and people with dementia using cognitive, emotional and haptic learning and teaching strategies in a safe and supportive way.

Find out more about dedicated CPD opportunities


The team have been nominated and won a number of awards for their innovative education, enterprise and contribution.

At Scotland's Dementia Awards 2019 the Carers' Academy won Best Educational Initiative. 

There were a number of successes at Scotland’s Dementia Awards in 2016 including the Class in a Bag, Jenny’s Diary and Lifetime Achievement Award

At the 2016 Guardian University Awards the Dementia Palliare project was runner up in the international projects category.

A national education programme delivered by our school was shortlisted a finalist in Scotland’s Dementia Awards in 2015.


We have developed Class in a Bag which is a portable educational resource which raises awareness of dementia. The resource was developed from seminal UWS research ‘Dementia through the eyes of a child’ and was winner of Best Educational Initiative at Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2016.

It includes the physical resources and lesson guides for five experiential interactive workshops and supports the exploration of ways to support people living with dementia.

Watch our video to learn more about Class in a Bag

There are two versions available, one for use with practitioners and the lay public and the other for teachers to use with pupils to support understanding of the ageing population and intergenerational support. To find out more and purchase the bag please click here select the links below.

Understanding Dementia: Class in a Bag (Public and Practitioner)

The public and practitioner resource is suitable for practitioners and members of the public who are engaging with people affected by dementia. This may be family, friends, or carers from a work, volunteering or leisure setting.

The resource is aligned to the ‘informed level’ of the Promoting Excellence Framework (NES SSSC, 2011). It is designed to be portable, so that it can be used without the need of a projector or computer equipment.

To find out more information regarding this resource please visit:

Understanding Dementia: Class in a Bag (Schools and Educational Organisations)

The Schools and Educational Organisations resource is suitable for children and young people who may be in primary or secondary school education. Facilitators may be classroom teachers, facilitators working in children’s organisations or those with experience in delivering dementia focussed training sessions. It is recommended that children of 9 years and upwards may be included in these sessions, however, it is important that the teacher or facilitator carefully considers the suitability of their participants.

To find out more information regarding this resource please visit:


The DOMUS Initiative

The DOMUS provides a highly adapted space an immersive learning environment based on best evidence about design and enablement.

These spaces coupled with our simulated learning approach provides learners with opportunities to experience, with expert support, some of the physical and sensory changes that might be familiar to people with dementia.

The DOMUS includes a homely space, reminiscence, sensory room and a care and hospital environment.

MSc in Gerontology With Dementia Care

The MSc in Gerontology with Dementia Care aims to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to enable them to lead, plan and deliver person focussed care to people living with dementia particularly in relation to their changing care priorities as dementia advances. It is aimed at an international diverse audience of health, allied health, social care, policy and social work professional.

FInd out more about our MSc Gerontology with Dementia Care

Meet some of our PhD students

We have full time and part time students. All are undertaking research degrees in applied dementia research or dementia care research. All are exploring the positive ways we can support those affected by dementia throughout the illness.

Angela Gregory

My background is in Occupational Therapy and my research is about meaning in activity and interactions with people with advanced dementia. I am joint-funded by Erskine Care and Alzheimer Scotland, and supervised by Dr Margaret Brown, Dr Rhoda Macrae and Dr Angela Beggan.

In my research, I will be working directly with people with advanced dementia, their families and care home staff through Action Research. In Action Research, participants become co-researchers to create positive changes through repeated cycles of planning, doing, observing and reflecting. I will be using a strengths-based approach to maximise the abilities of co-researchers with advanced dementia rather than focusing on what they are no longer able to do.

I am excited to bring skills from my art and occupational therapy background into my research by using creative methods such as collage, video, photography, visual/sound diaries and apps. These will then become prompts during interviews and focus groups and may also form an exhibition.

Michael Smith

Michael has a background in health psychology and dementia research.

My project is funded by the Abbeyfield Research Foundation. It focusses on the experiences of living with a diagnosis of dementia in supported housing.

Supported housing can be viewed as alternatives to care or nursing homes and strive to promote the tenants’ well-being, privacy, social relationships, and independence.

The project includes a systematic literature review that highlighted gaps in research exploring the needs and experiences of people living with dementia in supported housing. In-depth case studies will explore various models of supported housing in Scotland and how these affect the social, psychological, and physical well-being of people living with dementia. They will explore how social networks and relationships are maintained, the tenants’ psychological and physical well-being, and how the settings’ environmental design promotes independence. The project will offer guidance for policy development and inform housing providers regarding best practice.

Mohammad Mainuddin Mollah

Mohammad is a full-time international PhD student from the Faculty of Social Work in the Institute of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

He is funded by the Bangabandhu Overseas Scholarship Program of the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mohammad is analysing Scottish dementia care policies and workforce development
approaches to determine the utility for application in Bangladesh.

With policy learning theory and a human rights-based approach, the study will explore the opportunities and potentially useful Scottish dementia care policies, and workforce development approaches
to make a policy proposition for Bangladesh. This will be based on stakeholder responses to the policy proposition and the analysis of transferable policy lessons from Scotland to Bangladesh.

Dementia Champions

Scotland’s National Dementia Champions change agent programme has been developed and delivered in partnership between Alzheimer Scotland and University of the West of Scotland since 2011.

People living with dementia are at the centre of the programme. Participants are recruited by NHS Education and the Scottish Social Services Council and work in a wide range of roles across acute hospital and related settings. These three films celebrate the work of the Champions programme

More Dementia Champions videos here
2017 Dementia Champions Reflections on the Journey So Far | UWS | University of the West of Scotland

Dementia Champions 2017 - Reflections on the Journey So Far

NHS Dementia Champions Graduation | UWS | University of the West of Scotland

NHS Dementia Champions Graduation

Research themes

  • Advanced dementia
  • Dementia in the workplace
  • Housing and Dementia
  • Dementia and prisons
  • Fundamentals of dementia care
  • Multiprofessional Dementia education and care skills
  • Dementia Care in acute hospitals
  • Dementia and family caring
  • Sensory and complementary care
  • Dementia inclusive sport and exercise

Key project summaries

Dementia Palliare

Advanced or severe dementia is often associated with end of life care. Current practice, existing care services and approaches to dementia education seem to perpetuate the ‘inverse care law’ where those who need to the care most receive least. The Palliare project highlights that a more nuanced understanding of advanced dementia is needed with a focus on living rather than dying. If you wish to join the Community of Practice please go to

To find out more about the project click here.

Being Home

The first report to bring together housing and dementia. The report included a comprehensive overview of the current housing situation for people affected by dementia including a range of housing options, possible solutions, services and supports. The report was commissioned by the Life Changes Trust and Angus Care and Repair. Key concerns included the lack of joined up policy, insufficient appropriate new housing and a lack of preparation and readiness for future housing needs. The report highlights a range of adaptations, new technologies and best practice that might offer some solutions.

Full report is available here

Summary of report is available here.

Dementia dogs

The aim of the evaluation was to understand the contribution of assistance dogs made to the lives of people with dementia and family carers. The evaluation demonstrated the important role that the dogs played in the support of people living with dementia including improved communication, supporting independence and emotional support. 


Grace Notes

The Grace Notes is an interdisciplinary learning project bringing students from Nursing and music and song writing together with people with dementia. The students pooled their expertise and creative skills to capture stories of individuals whose voice may become lost to others and to turn these stories into songs. The result was six new songs inspired by the real life experiences shared during the workshops. To hear the six Grace Notes songs created click here. The project was awarded the overall winner in the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland Awards.

Jenny’s diary

Jenny’s diary is a resource to support conversation about dementia with people who have a learning disability. To find about more and download the booklet and postcards please go to here. Supporting Derek is a training film to support staff in care homes to understand and to care better for people with dementia and learning difficulties. The film can be accessed at here

Dementia in the workplace

This project aimed to explore the employment related experiences of people with dementia or MCI, and attitudes of employers and/or co-workers towards supporting people with dementia, in order to identify the potential for continued employment post diagnosis. Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society from 2013-2015), this was the first project in the UK to explore dementia in the workplace and has informed further collaborations  and projects (see

Information for colleagues

Information for employees

Information for employers

Information for HR



Advanced Dementia Care in India

There are four million people living with dementia in India and an urgent need to establish dementia education and care aligned to the Global Sustainable Development Goals.

Advanced dementia within India is a hidden problem, which places individuals and their sometimes-young carers at high risk of poverty and other inequalities. There is an immediate need to develop practical and theoretical understanding among practitioners, policy decision-makers and the public about advanced dementia alongside an understanding of advanced dementia related abuse and abandonment.

This mixed method project has begun to explore the experiences and vulnerabilities of people affected by advanced dementia, to establish the principles to inform culturally sensitive dementia education linked to care.

The project has included community conversations to gauge views on the potential to adapt the UWS-Class in a Bag (CIAB) as a brief educational intervention to accelerate dementia awareness and community /family based dementia care capabilities.

Advanced Dementia Education - Report

Dementia Services and Public Health Data India

Executive Summary Report

The experience of Advanced Dementia in India

Dementia Friendly Walking Football


Below are key members of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice. Click on the member name to see a full profile in our research portal.

Professor Debbie Tolson
Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia
Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice
Tel +44(0)1698283 100 Ext 8669
Debbie's research profile link

Dr Margaret Brown
Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice
Tel 01698 283 100 ext 8473
Margaret's research profile link

Dr Louise Ritchie
Reader in Dementia (Research)
Tel 01698 283100 ext 8673
Louise's research profile link 

Dr Rhoda MacRae
Senior Lecturer in Dementia
Tel 01698 283100 ext. 8349
Rhoda's research profile link

Anna Jack-Waugh
Senior Lecturer in Dementia
Tel 01387345800
Ana's research profile link

Dr Eileen Harkess-Murphy
Tel no 0141 848 3000
Eileen's research profile link


Dr Barbara Sharp, Policy and Practice Consultant, Public Policy, Alzheimer Scotland.

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 81 Oxford Street, Glasgow,G5 9EP
Email:, | Phone: +44 141 410 1067 | Mobile: +44 7584 673 967


PhD, PG Cert. Research Methods, B.A. (Hons) Lit, RN, RSCN, Lecturer/Practice Educator.

Barbara was a nurse and nurse teacher within the NHS for 18yrs, specialising in the care of older people prior to joining Alzheimer Scotland in 1990, where she has held a range of practice, policy and development roles. She has worked in close collaboration with the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice (ASCPP) at UWS since its inception and is part of the National Dementia Champions teaching team. Barbara works closely with the national network of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultants across all Scottish Health Boards. Her key research interest is in the role of stress in dementia. Barbara is currently leading on the partnership development between Alzheimer Scotland and ASCPP of an International Centre for Dementia Practice and Technology.

Henry Simmons, Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details 

Alzheimer Scotland,160 Dundee street, Edinburgh, EH11 1DQ | Phone:  +44 131 243 1453 


Henry Simmons joined Alzheimer Scotland as Chief Executive in August 2008. He is a registered Social Worker, RMN and has an MBA.

Henry has over twenty years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has spent the majority of his career in the voluntary sector, primarily involved in developing new community-based person-centred services.

Henry has worked in both the learning disability and mental health fields. He was a Board Member of Alzheimer Europe for several years and is a General Member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. He is also chair of the NHS NES/SSSC Dementia Programme Board and currently a member of the Fair Work Convention.

Recently, Henry has been fortunate to be awarded Honorary Doctorates from both Queen Margaret University and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Jim Pearson, Director of Policy and Research Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 81 Oxford Street, Glasgow, G5 9EP.
Email: | Phone: +44 7931148478



Jim is Alzheimer Scotland’s Director of Policy & Research. He leads the organisation’s public policy development, campaigning activities and engagement in dementia research. He is responsible for working with key stakeholders to ensure that the commitments of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategies are delivered at local and individual level. Jim is also responsible for Alzheimer Scotland’s national and local involvement networks which ensure that people with dementia and carers have an effective voice to inform the work of Alzheimer Scotland and to influence dementia policy, practice and research nationally and locally. Jim is also a member of the Alzheimer Europe Board of Directors.

Joyce Gray, Deputy Director Development, Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, Kilmarnock Dementia Resource Centre, 8-12 College Wynd, Kilmarnock, KA1 1HN
Email: | Phone: +44 141 410 1065 | Mobile: +44 7899 951 616


Joyce joined Alzheimer Scotland in January 2010 as Deputy Director of Development and leads on major projects that have attracted international interest e.g. Dementia Dog. Joyce has a BA in Business and Enterprise and CIPD Diploma in Training Management, in addition to over 30 years’ experience in the health and social care sector.

She started her career as a Psychiatric Nurse but had the opportunity to join the voluntary sector in the early nineties and has since worked with young people excluded from main stream education, managed Carers Centres where she developed one of the first young carers services in the Scotland. Also, before joining Alzheimer Scotland she worked on developing new and innovative services for people with learning disabilities.

In her current role she drives the design innovation programme at Alzheimer Scotland pioneering the use of creativity to help build collaborative user driven service innovation.

Gillian Anderson, Digital Lead, Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, Kilmarnock Dementia Resource Centre, 8-12 College Wynd, Kilmarnock, KA1 1HN
Email: | Phone: +44 7876 790 864


Charlotte Swarbrick, Digital Lead, Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, Kilmarnock Dementia Resource Centre, 8-12 College Wynd, Kilmarnock, KA1 1HN
Email: | Phone: +44 7880 002770


Having originally trained and qualified as an Allied Health Professional, Charlotte went on to leave the NHS clinical world as a Diagnostic Radiographer, to pursue career advancement within the evolving health and social care field. Steadily working across multiple sectors in a variety of roles, still armed with her practitioner mindset and unwavering desire to advocate, Charlotte’s passion and aptitude for innovation and development emerged. In her current role as National Digital Lead within Alzheimer Scotland, she works alongside her team to explore pioneering approaches to support people living with dementia and their carers, using technology and digital solutions. Her main work stream within the team is delivery - developing first class learning pathways to ensure digitally-enabled, emerging citizen-centred best practice is demonstrated by practitioners locally, nationally and internationally.

Elaine Hunter, National Allied Health Professionals Consultant, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 160 Dundee street, Edinburgh, EH11 1DQ.
Email:  | Phone: +44 131 243 1499  | Mobile: +44 7765 565 853

Alison McKean, Allied Health Professions Post Diagnostic Lead, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 160 Dundee street, Edinburgh, EH11 1DQ.
Email:  | Phone: +44 131 243 1453



Alison graduated in Occupational Therapy in 2000. She has over 18 years of experience working in the field of dementia and mental health in the National Health Service, she was Dementia Lead within her Service for many years.
Alison’s national leadership role with Alzheimer Scotland focuses on enhancing access to the skills of the Allied Health Professionals in the post diagnostic period (as per Ambition One of Scotland’s AHP dementia policy, Connecting People, Connecting Support).
Alison is passionate about improvements in dementia care and is a graduate of the Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship (cohort 9).

Jan Beattie, Deputy Director of Workforce, Quality and Workforce Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 81 Oxford Street, Glasgow, G5 9EP.
Email: | Phone: +44 1414101064 | Mobile: +44 7468 700 980


BA (Hons) Applied Social Science: Dip SW
Jan brings a background in social work and community development to Alzheimer Scotland where she leads workforce development. Jan’s workstreams include ensuring everyone who works for Alzheimer Scotland accesses appropriate level Promoting Excellence Framework learning, facilitating communities of practice to share skills and knowledge and building leadership skills at all practice levels. Before joining Alzheimer Scotland, Jan had her own consultancy practice focussing on participation, partnership development and organisational change.

Susan Rendell, Dementia Learning Agent, Quality and Workforce Development Team, Alzheimer Scotland. No

Contact details

Alzheimer Scotland, 81 Oxford Street, Glasgow, G5 9EP.
Email:  | Phone: +44 1414101178 | Mobile +44 7917 849193


Susan is the Dementia Learning Agent for external training for Alzheimer Scotland and has held a range of roles. Specifically working as a Young Onset Dementia Link Worker for 6 years delivering Post Diagnostic Support within the community for individuals and their families with a diagnosis of Young Onset dementia. An area of interest for Susan is rarer dementias and looking at innovative ways to provide a platform for people with dementia and their families to ensure that their voices are heard within delivery of training.

Dr Shelley Peacock, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan


Dr Peacock's previous clinical practice and current research interests are focused on supporting persons with dementia and their family caregivers, particularly at the end of life and into bereavement.

Her master of nursing degree (University of Saskatchewan, 2003) was a systematic review of interventions to support family caregivers to persons with dementia, and her PhD (University of Alberta, 2011) research was a phenomenology on the experience of providing end-of-life care to a relative with advanced dementia.

She actively participates in several research projects with colleagues from Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and Scotland. She has received a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation Establishment Grant (2014 - 2018) to adapt a self-administered bereavement tool to the dementia-context. Recent interests have expanded to explore the delivery of dementia care in correctional settings. Shelley teaches fundamental assessment and clinical skills in undergraduate courses in the BSN and PDBSN programs of the college. Also, Shelley supervises and is a committee member for many graduate students in nursing and psychology.

Research Interests

  • Dementia
  • Family caregiving
  • Older adults

Dr Stuart Wood, MBE, Music and Health Researcher


Dr Wood is a music therapist, music therapy supervisor and researcher. He has 20 years' experience as a music therapist in a wide variety of settings, and a growing track record of doctoral supervision, research methods teaching and music therapy input. He presents frequently in national and international contexts, on music therapy and aspects of medical humanities. His research interests focus on aesthetics of care, using innovative methods from musicology and drama to explore everyday life situations.

He has a creative and innovative approach to providing music therapy within healthcare, education and social care, and provides a wide range of music therapy and Arts in Health services, including music therapy, consultancy, expert reports, supervision and corporate masterclasses / workshops. His training programme, Aeriel, was launched in August 2018.

In 2017 he was awarded an MBE for services to music therapy and care.

Winnie McGarry, Lecturer, UWS

More information to appear here soon

Wendy Wight, Lecturer, UWS

More information to appear here soon

Caroline McCallum, Lecturer, UWS

More information to appear here soon

Alison Toner, Lecturer, UWS

More information to appear here soon

Last updated: 27/03/2020