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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 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.

2018 Annual Report

You can find the 2018 annual report on the Alzheimer Scotland Centre here.

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 ad 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.

For enquires contact


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

There were a number of successes at Scotland’s Dementia Awards in 2016 including the Class in a Bag, Jenny’s Diary and Life Time 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.

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

We also run Class in a Bag half day workshops, these will benefit those who want to understand more about dementia and those who wish to use the bag as an educational resource. To book workshops click here.

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:

Along with either of these educational resources, there is an optional short course that provides facilitators, trainers, teachers and practitioners with helpful tips and information when delivering a workshop within practice. 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:

Along with either of these educational resources, there is an optional short course that provides facilitators, trainers, teachers and practitioners with helpful tips and information when delivering a workshop within practice. 

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

The MSc in Gerontology is designed to equip students with and in-depth knowledge to allow them to utilise leadership and planning skills to promote evidence informed approaches to meet the needs of our ageing population. It is aimed at an international diverse audience of health, allied health, social care, policy and social work professional.

For more information on the MSc Gerontology course click here.

The MSc in Gerontology (with Dementia Care) pathway 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.

For more information on the MSc in Gerontology with Dementia care click here.

To contact the Programme Leader for both MSc programmes email

Dementia Champions

Scotland’s National Dementia Champions change agent programme has been developed and delivered in partnership between Alzheimer Scotland and the 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 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

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




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
PURE 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
PURE profile link

Dr Louise Ritchie
Lecturer in Dementia (Research)
Tel 01698 283100 ext 8673
PURE profile link 

Dr Rhoda MacRae
Lecturer in Dementia
Tel 01698 283100 ext. 8349
PURE profile link

Anna Jack-Waugh
Lecturer in Dementia
Tel 01387345800
PURE profile link

Centre Associates and Affiliates

Visiting Professor, Iva Holmerová, M.D., Ph.D., Assoc. Prof.,
Chair of the Alzheimer Europe Board and the Czech Alzheimer Society.

Professor Holmerová leads the Centre of Expertise in Longevity and Long-term Care (CELLO) an interdisciplinary research centre focused on longevity and aging related issues.

Jenny Henderson
Associate Lecturer

Dr Barbara Sharp
Alzheimer Scotland Policy and Research Advisor
Tel 01698 283100 ext 8501
PURE profile link

Susan Holland
Associate Lecturer
Alzheimer Scotland Nurse Consultant, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Last updated: 24/05/2018

Latest tweets

Apr 2, 2019

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