Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice

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

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

Social media

See our social media channels for regular updates on our activities and our 'Publication of the month' feature. 

Twitter      Facebook       YouTube

Key Team Members

Professor Debbie Tolson (Nurse, Gerontologist)

Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS. Director of the Institute of Health and Care Research at UWS. Living with Dementia theme lead and executive committee member of Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC).

Dr Margaret Brown (Mental Health Nurse. Gerontologist)

Depute Director Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS.

Dr Louise Ritchie (Psychologist)

Reader, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS. Executive Committee member of Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC).

Dr Rhoda MacRae (Sociologist)

Senior Lecturer, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS.

Dr Anna Jack-Waugh (Mental Health Nurse)

Senior Lecturer, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS.

Dr Raymond Duffy (Nurse)

Lecturer. Division of Mental Health and Integrated Practice.

Dr Eileen Harkess-Murphy (Psychologist)

Lecturer Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS.

Susan Holland (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant)

NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Visiting Professor Iva Holmerova (Geriatrician and Gerontologist)

Charles University, Prague. Czech Republic.

Emeritus Professor Graham Jackson (Old Age Psychiatry)

Formerly Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia Care, ASCPP at UWS.

education and Professional Development

Our educational offerings include 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.

In 2020 we were proud to win a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) from the Higher Education Academy for our ground-breaking Class in a Bag resource, created in partnership with Adult Nursing Lecturers and Alzheimer Scotland.

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 and a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) in 2020.

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

Research Degrees

We welcome applications for research degrees (PhD, MPhil, MRes) from potential students from any discipline interested in studying topics related to supporting the health, care and wellbeing of people affected by dementia. This includes understanding the experiences and ways to support people affected by dementia, from early onset dementia through to those at the advanced stage of the illness. When research students join the Centre they benefit from a vibrant and inclusive community of dementia scholars.

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. Below you can see some examples of our current research students and the projects they are undertaking.

If you are interested in applying for a Research Degree with the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice please contact or visit the UWS Doctoral College website.


This scholarship is designed to support an outstanding candidate to complete a full-time, applied dementia care PhD with stipend and fees paid over a period of three years. The successful candidate will join the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice team as a junior researcher, benefitting from supervision from leading dementia care experts.

The closing date for applications is Friday 28th May 2021. You can find out more in the candidate pack below.


Meet our current students

Angela Gregory (HCPC registered Occupational Therapist)

Supervisory Team: Dr Margaret Brown, Dr Rhoda Macrae and Dr Angela Beggan

Full time. Recipient of the Erskine / Alzheimer Scotland / UWS Studentship

Date Commenced: 27th August 2019

Thesis Overview: Angela’s study aims to explore how meaning can be understood in activities and interactions with people living with advanced dementia. The main objective is to increase understanding of how meaning in this context can be created and supported. Action Research and creative methods will actively involve people with advanced dementia in a care home setting, their families and care home staff. Possible creative methods include exploring objects with people with advanced dementia, creating diaries with family members, and using a confidential ‘App’ with staff. Expected outcomes include guidance around creating meaning with people with advanced dementia, and a creative display of the research journey and findings.

Michael Smith (Health Psychology)

Supervisory Team: Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Margaret Brown, Professor Debbie Tolson.

Full Time: Recipient of the Abbeyfield Research Foundation Studentship

Date Commenced: November 2019. 

Thesis Overview: Michael’s research focusses on living with a diagnosis of dementia in supported housing. The research aims to explore various models of supported housing in Scotland and how these affect the social, psychological, and physical wellbeing of people living with dementia. To address this, a systematic review highlighting gaps in research exploring the needs and experiences of people living with dementia in supported housing was carried out. The second phase of the research will conduct in-depth case studies involving people living with dementia living in supported housing, their family members, supported and health and social care professionals. It is expected that this research will provide new and important insights into best practice for supporting people living with dementia in supported housing.

Mohammad Mainuddin Mollah (Social Work)

Supervisory Team: Professor Debbie Tolson, Professor John Connelly (Political Sciences), Dr Anna Jack-Waugh. 

Full time. Recipient of the Bangabandhu Overseas Scholarship Program at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Date Commenced: December 2019.

Thesis Overview: A mixed method study, which aims to investigate and analyse Scottish dementia care policies and workforce development approaches to determine their utility for application within Bangladesh. Data collection approaches will involve Documentary Policy Analysis (desk based), Stakeholder Interviews (Key informants from Scotland), A Policy Delphi (online with experts from Bangladesh and Scotland) and Nominal Group Technique (on site in Bangladesh). Theoretical influences include rights based approaches and policy learning.

Margaret Callaghan (Nurse and Care Home Expert)

Supervisory Team: Professor Debbie Tolson, Dr Margaret Brown, Dr Beverley Young. 

Part time.

Thesis Overview: A constructivist ground theory study investigating how within nursing home practice, the fundamentals of care of residents with dementia is planned and individualised. Data collection methods will include intensive interviewing with care home staff, visiting family and friends of residents.

Carol Beckwith (Song-writer/Musician)

Supervisory Team: Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Kathryn Burnett, Dr Margaret Brown


Date Commenced: October 2020

Thesis Overview: This research project focuses on the narratives of carers of people with young onset dementia, exploring the experience of being an unpaid carer through songwriting practice.  It will specifically look at understanding how they manage the complexities of being a carer for a younger person with dementia, the particular challenges that this presents and how they support their own health and wellbeing, particularly in relation to how they retain their own lives and identities.

As this is a creative project and is practice based, the methods adopt a practice as research approach (PAR) reflected in the creative practice of the student (song-writing), this will sit alongside Narrative Inquiry which will frame the ‘story-telling’ nature of the research.

Yvonne Manson (Nurse and Care Home Expert)

Supervisory Team: Dr Rhoda MacRae, Dr Bryan Mitchell, Professor Debbie Tolson

Part-time, funded by Abbotsford Care

Date Commenced: October 2020

Thesis Overview: Yvonne’s PhD will explore the experiences of advanced dementia in care homes for families and staff and the impact on relationships, personal outcomes, and maintenance of self with collaborative working.  

Care home quality assurance systems are often mixed method taking various aspects of the care home into account. The study will also be mixed method however it is expected that the qualitative records will be more heavily present in the form of substantive field notes, and interviews.  

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


Through our applied dementia research and enterprise projects we endeavour to apply evidence-based knowledge to influence policy, advance practice and improve lives. Our work recognises the different contexts and circumstances in which people age and seeks to understand individualised, personalised and collaborative ways we can help people to live the best life possible from midlife through to advanced old age. Our close links with the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC), Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) and National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN) ensures we put people with dementia and family carers at the heart of everything we do. 


Dementia in Prison

Title - Improving the health and well-being of older people with cognitive frailty and dementia in prison

Funders: Dunhill Medical Trust

Status:   Seeking Ethical Approval

Start/end: – 28/3/21 TBC

Research Team:  – Dr Rhoda MacRae, Prof Debbie Tolson, Dr Kirstin Anderson and Dr James Taylor

Overview: The study aim is to identify and develop new effective ways to improve the health and well-being of the increasing numbers of older prisoners living with dementia and cognitive frailty. This mixed methods study will investigate current care and lived experience of dementia in prison, and co-design research informed healthcare pathways.

Dementia - ASCPP Carers' Academy

Project Title: Development and Refinement of the ASCPP Carers’ Academy a co-operative research and service development initiative.

Funders: Alzheimer Scotland

Start Date: Feb 2020 for three years

Status: Current

Project Team: Susan Holland (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Alison Toner (ECR –UWS), Dr Margaret Brown UWS, Dr Rhoda Macrae, Professor Debbie Tolson (UWS)

Synopsis:- The purpose of the ASCPP Carer’s Academy is to provide state of the art practical skills based learning and information that will support and sustain family caring of a relative with dementia. Focussing on:

  • Enhancing knowledge and understanding of the effects of dementia.
  • Developing practical skills in the fundamentals of care and caring.
  • Facilitating opportunities for peer to peer learning.

An important function will include a best practice approach to carer emotional support and follow up before, during and after participation in learning activities. Following on from our previous modelling work and pilot studies, this three year project seeks to create two sustainable ASCPP Carers’ Academy Hubs at the UWS Ayrshire and Lanarkshire Campuses. A mixed method Family Carer led evaluation will permit, evidence based ongoing and continual improvement and refinement of the learning model.

Publications:  in Submission.


“Best Educational Initiative” Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2019

“Innovations in Education Award”, Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland Awards 2019

Dementia Inclusive Singing Network Evaluation

Project title: An evaluation of the Dementia Inclusive Singing Network and the experience of group singing for people living with dementia and family carers.

Researchers: Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Margaret Brown, Carol Beckwith and Dr Stuart Wood (Independent Health and Music Researcher).

Funders: Life Changes Trust

Status: Ongoing

Date Commenced: April 2019


The Dementia Inclusive Singing Network was established in 2019 by Luminate to promote and support singing activities for people living with dementia throughout Scotland. The evaluation aims to: 

  • Understand the impact of dementia inclusive singing for people with dementia and unpaid carers.
  • Assess the working of the Dementia Inclusive Singing Network in terms of its ability to raise awareness of dementia and improve access to the arts for people affected by dementia within Scotland.
  • Explore the best ways of working for the Network

Using a realistic evaluation methodology, the project will draw on a range of data sources including video footage of choirs and singing activities, project documents and interviews with team members, choir leaders and choir members.


Dementia Champions - Workforce Development

Project title: Development, delivery and evaluation of a training programme to prepare NHS and Social Services Dementia Champions as change agents.

Funders:  Scottish Government

Project Status:  Dissemination Phase

Project Team:  Dr Anna Jack-Waugh, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS), Dr Rhoda MacRae, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS), Dr Margaret Brown, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS), Dr Louise Ritchie, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS), Dr Raymond Duffy, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS)  Jo Oliver Hartley, (School of Health and Life Sciences. UWS), Dr Barbara Sharp, (Alzheimer Scotland), Jenny Henderson, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS) 

Overview: In recognition of the often poor experience of people living with dementia in general hospitals and the lack of dementia curricular content of health and social care professionals, the Scottish Government commissioned a National Dementia Champions Programme for qualified health and social care professionals in 2011. Ten cohorts were delivered up to 2019 by a team of dementia specialist from University of the West of Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland, NHS Boards and Scottish Social Services Council. The six-month programme has a blended learning approach, including five face to face study days and three assignments. A description of the programme and ongoing evaluation is in Banks et al. (2014) and Jack-Waugh et al. (2018).

The ongoing research demonstrated that the Dementia Champions programme significantly improves attitudes and knowledge of dementia and increases participants' feelings of self-efficacy in delivering person-centred dementia care. A ProfD study into the experience of being a dementia champion illuminated the long-term negative impact of knowledge and skills gaps in dementia education and on people living with dementia and health and social care professionals. This study has also led to developing a learner, experience, research and practice centred approach to dementia workforce education called SCOTIA, with people with dementia at the centre.


Banks, P., Waugh, A., Henderson, J., Sharp, B., Brown, M., Oliver, J. & Marland, G. 2014. Enriching the care of patients with dementia in acute settings? The Dementia Champions Programme in Scotland. Dementia (London) [Online], 13. Available:

Brown, M., Waugh, A., Sharp, B., Duffy, R. & Macrae, R. 2018. What are dementia champions and why do we need them? Dementia [Online], 17. Available:

Jack-Waugh, A., Ritchie, L. & Macrae, R. 2018. Assessing the educational impact of the dementia champions programme in Scotland: Implications for evaluating professional dementia education. Nurse Education Today [Online]. Available:

Waugh, A., Marland, G., Henderson, J., Robertson, J. & Wilson, A. 2011. Improving the care of people with dementia in hospital. Nursing Standard, 25, 44-49.

Multispecies Dementia Network

Project title: Multispecies and Dementia Research Network

Researchers: Dr Nick Jenkins, Dr Anna Jack-Waugh and Dr Louise Ritchie

Funders: Wellcome Trust

Status: Ongoing

Date Commenced: October 2019

Overview: This project aims to set up and establish the Multispecies Dementia Network. Drawing on current research from across the humanities, social sciences and biological sciences, the network will chart the contours of an alternative (multi-species) perspective, in which relations between human and non-human bodies becomes the primary lens for understanding dementia and its effects. The Network, 60 members representing 16 disciplines internationally. As we continue to develop the network, we have launched a monthly newsletter, blog series, and are developing best practice guidance for multispecies dementia care.

Publications: In submission

Handedness and vitamin D as predictors of dementia

Researchers – Dr Bianca Hatin, Dr Hannah Lithgow, Dr Andisheh Bakhshi, Dr Nicola Douglas-Smith, Dr Rhoda MacRae

Project title - Can handedness and Vitamin D levels predict the development of dementia?

Project status – in progress

Funders – UWS Crucible fund

Start/end – January-June 2021

Overview: The main aim of our project is to establish for the first time whether left-handedness, together with levels of vitamin D, can predict the onset of dementia. Research has suggested a link between left handedness and early early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (Ryan et al., 2019), and moreover vitamin D status has been associated with the onset of dementia (Annweiler et al., 2013). The proposed study will use the UK BioBank database and English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) database to undertake a quantitative secondary analysis of key variables will and apply statistical methods to estimate the odds ratios of the outcome. Results will show whether lower Vitamin D levels and left handedness cumulatively increase the risk of developing dementia, particularly early-onset AD.

Rapid Covid; Care Home Study

Project Title: Care homes, social distancing and behavioural changes – an assessment of the psychosocial impact of Coronavirus on families with relatives in care homes in Scotland.

Research Team: Dr G. Palattiyil,  (UoE), Dr S. Jain (UoE), Dr J. Hockley (UoE), Prof L. Jamieson (UoE), Prof L. McKie (UoE); Dr D. Sidhva (UWS), Prof D. Tolson (UWS), Dr N. Quinn (UoS) and Prof T. Hafford-Letchfield, (UoS); R. Iversholt (IRISS). Research Fellows Dr S Swift (UWS), Dr B Mason (UoE).

Funded by Chief Scientist Office Scotland; Rapid COVID Study £150,000

Duration 6 months

Synopsis: Between May and October 2020 we conducted 36 in-depth interviews with family carers to understand the impact on them being prevented from visiting their relatives in care homes. Our café style interviews involved five sessions with staff drawn from four separate care homes and explored creative practices used to connect residents with family carers. To help understand measures taken to reduce the impact on family members, we undertook 19 interviews with key stakeholders from the health and social care sector. Finally, using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ 12), we conducted an online survey of people who had a loved one in a care home, which yielded 444 responses, representing 31 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Our findings reveal the disproportionately high impact on care home communities of the pandemic, and the consequences of policies that give primacy to NHS services over long-term care services. The high level of emotional distress reported by family carers sits uncomfortably within a service leadership structure that is over reliant on social media reporting and tolerant of serious inequalities, harms and system failures that were only too evident to staff and family members. 

Publications: in Submission

Dementia: Care Home Communities

Project title: Kinections

Funders: Life Changes Trust

Project Status:  Dissemination Phase

Research Team: Dr Anna Jack-Waugh, (Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, UWS), Dr Edel Roddy (UWS), Dr Annette Coburn (School of Education and Social Sciences, UWS), Alison Nugent,(Expert by Experience), Val Allen, (Integration Lead, Scottish Care), Charlie Allan, (Contracts and Commissioning Office, East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership).

Overview:   Kinections is a UWS research project affiliated with My Home Life working with care homes across East Ayrshire. The Kinections project started in October 2018 and ends in February 2021, the project is in its final dissemination phase.

The aims of the project

  • Find out what is important to people in care homes living with dementia and those who support them.
  • Co-create a picture of what community in care homes looks like at its best.
  • Work together to enhance everyday ways in which people’s experiences of community can be strengthened in care homes.
  • Engage with people and groups from local communities to strengthen ways in which those who live and work in care homes are valued and cherished

Appreciative Inquiry was the methodology used which focuses on:

  • Inquiry
  • Using a Strengths-based approach
  • Tapping into how visuals and language can evoke new insights.

The project co-created 20 actions, processes and events, all are summarised in the Kinections Chronicles and Kinections website.   A series of resources for developing community in and around care homes designed for use across the care home sector and more broadly in all areas of health and social care are here Kinections Resources, Kinections on Youtube and here Kinections Key Outputs.

Dementia and Employment

Research Team: Dr Louise Ritchie (UWS), Professor Debbie Tolson (UWS), Dr Valerie Egdell (Northumbria University), Prof Jill Stavert (Edinburgh Napier University) Emeritus Professor Mike Danson (Heriot-Watt University) 

Programme title: Dementia and employment

Status: Ongoing

Funders: Alzheimer’s Society, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Overview: Approximately 40,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with dementia whilst of working age, but little attention is afforded to the impact this has on employment. The aim of this developing programme of research is to understand the experience of people with dementia who are diagnosed whilst still in employment and the support required for employees, employers and families.

Study 1: Dementia in the workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis was seminal case study research on dementia and employment, carried out in 2013 - 2015 and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. This research was the first study to explore the experiences of people with dementia who are still employed and highlighted that people with dementia can continue to work post diagnosis, although support to continue employment is complex and many do not get the support required, with many losing employment pre or at the point of diagnosis as a result. Project Summary

Study 2: Employers’ responses to dementia in the workplace was funded by Carnegie Trust and led by Edinburgh Napier University with UWS collaboration.  This mixed method survey and interviews with employers highlighted gaps in knowledge and understanding of dementia and its effects in the workplace.  Project Report

Study 3: Dementia, Work and Employability was a secondary analysis of data sets collected across the two previous projects, providing a theoretical perspective on dementia in the workplace, using the lens of Sen’s Capability Approach. The findings of this study outline the range of personal resources, supports and environments required to enable positive employment-related experiences and practices for people with dementia.

Dissemination Grant: A dissemination grant from Alzheimer’s Society provided the funding to produce a series of short evidence-informed resources to provide information and signposting to support people with dementia, their employers and family members with employment post diagnosis. These resources can be downloaded below.

Information for colleagues

Information for employees

Information for employers

Information for HR


Egdell, V., Cook, M., Stavert, J., Ritchie, L., Tolson, D., & Danson, M. (2019). Dementia in the workplace: are employers supporting employees living with dementia?. Aging & Mental Health, 1-8.

Ritchie, L., Banks, P., Danson, M., Tolson, D., & Borrowman, F. (2015). Dementia in the workplace: a review. Journal of Public Mental Health.

Ritchie, L., Tolson, D., Danson M. (2017) Dementia in the workplace case study research: understanding the experiences of individuals, colleagues, managers and family. Ageing and Society.

Ritchie, L., Egdell, V., Danson, M., Cook, M., Stavert, J. and Tolson, D. (2020) Dementia, work and employability: Using the Capability Approach to understand the employability potential for people living with dementia. Work, Employment and Society


Advanced Dementia Related Hardships – India

Project Title: Developing family and community capacity to provide evidence-informed advanced dementia care, and reduce risks of dementia-related elder abandonment and abuse.

Funders: Scottish Funding Council Global Challenges Research Fund 2018-19

Research Team: Professor D Tolson1 , Professor E Sanatombi Devi2, Dr L Ritchie1, Dr A Jack-Waugh1, Dr V Binil2,  J Henry2, CS Martis2, Dr A George2.

1The University of the West of Scotland, UK.

2Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal Academy of Higher Education. India.  

Synopsis: There are 4 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.

Methods used to collect data included:-

  • review of research literature
  • desk based research to map local services and access public health data
  • focus groups to explore the experience of family care giving
  • educational gap analysis
  • community co-design conversations and user acceptability questionnaires exploring relevance and cultural sensitivity issues of an existing research based training resource UWS-Class in the Bag-Dementia.


Ritchie, L., Jack-Waugh, A., Devi, E. S., Binil, V., George, A., Henry, J., ... & Tolson, D. (2020). Understanding family carer experiences of advanced dementia caregiving in India: towards a vision for integrated practice. Journal of Integrated Care. JICA-02-2020-0006

Project reports:

Dementia Services and Public Health Data India

Executive Summary Report

The experience of Advanced Dementia in India

Advanced Dementia Education

Dementia and Housing

Project title: Being Home

Researchers: Dr Margaret Brown, Steven Tolson (consultant) Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Kirstin James, Dr David Kelly (BRE Scotland), Professor Debbie Tolson.

Status: Completed 2018

Funders: Life Changes Trust

Project overview: 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

Grace Notes

Project title: Grace Notes

Researchers: Dr Margaret Brown, Carol Beckwith, Jim Prime, Prof Debbie Tolson

Status: Completed.

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

Walking Football

Project title: An Evaluation of the Social Impact of a Pilot Dementia-Friendly Walking football Programme

Research Team: Dr Eilidh Macrae and Dr Rhoda MacRae, UWS

Status:  completed.

Funders: RS Macdonald

Start/End: 1/2/19 – 1/2/20

Overview: Dementia friendly walking football (DFWF) is an increasingly popular way to encourage men living with dementia to engage in a form of physical activity (PA) traditionally attractive to them, yet no published empirical evidence exists regarding its social impact. This project aimed to evaluate the social impact of a pilot, monthly DFWF programme on the lives of men living with dementia and the people who care for them. Mixed qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and observation


MacRae, R., Macrae, E and Carlin, L (2020) Modifying walking football for people living with dementia: lessons for best practice. Sport in Society. Accepted 15/09/20 DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2020.1825383

Conference presentations:

MacRae, R., Macrae, E., and Carlin, L (2020). The social impact of participating in sport for people living with dementia. Alzheimer Europe-virtual conference. 20-22/10/2020

MacRae, R., Macrae, E., and Carlin, L (2020). The social impact of participating in football for people living with dementia. Thirteenth Annual Summit of Rural and Remote Dementia Care, Canada - virtual conference. 10/11/20

Video Report

Dementia Palliare: Advanced Dementia Care

Project Title: Interprofessional experiential learning (IPE) solutions: equipping the qualified dementia workforce to champion evidence informed improvement to advanced dementia care and family caring (Palliare).

Funders: Erasmus+ 2014 Key Action 2 (KA2), Strategic Partnerships

Project 2014-1-UK01-KA203-001819

Dates: 2014-2016 

Project Team: Professor Debbie Tolson 1, Professor Iva Holmerova2 ,Dr Rhoda Macrae1, Anna WaughDr Simona Hvalič- Touzery3, Professor Wilson de Abreu4, Professor Manuel Lillo Crespo5 Anne Merta6, Professor Elizabeth Hanson7

Organisational Affiliations

  1. Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice. University of the West of Scotland UK
  2. Centre of Expertise in Longevity and long Term Care, Charles University, Prague
  3. Angela Boškin Faculty of Health Care, Jesenice, Slovenia
  4. Porto School of Nursing, Porto, Portugal
  5. University of Alicante, Spain
  6. Turku University of Applied Sciences Ltd TUAS, Finland
  7. Swedish Family Care Competence Centre, Linnaeus University, Sweden

Synopsis: The Palliare Project was completed between 2014-2017 by a partnership of seven European countries (Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). The aim of the dementia Palliare project was to create an inspirational experiential interprofessional learning solution to equip the European qualified dementia  workforce to lead and champion practice reform. This required new knowledge to generate an experienced based understanding of advanced dementia and best practice for care delivered in partnership with family carers, and to use this knowledge to create state of the art advanced dementia education.   Palliare, means to cloak in support, the term Dementia Palliare was chosen as a new concept to describe dementia specific palliation.   Building the evidence for Dementia Palliare and Palliare education  involved 11 work streams and included the following research activities:-

  • Literature Review
  • Policy Analysis
  • In-depth case studies
  • Educational Gap Analysis
  • Experiential learning pedagogical review


Hanson, E., Hellstrom, A., Sandvide, A., Jackson, GA., Macrae, R., Waugh, A. Abreu, W. & Tolson, D. (2016). The extended palliative phase of dementia – an integrative literature review. Dementia DOI: 10:1177/1471301216659797.

Tolson, D., Fleming, A., Hanson, E., Abreu, W., Lillo Crespo, M., Macrae, R., Jackson, G., Hvalic-Touzery, Routasola, P. & Holmerova, I. (2016) Achieving Prudent Dementia Care (Palliare): An International Policy and Practice Imperative. International Journal of Integrated Care, 16 (4), 18, 1–11, DOI:

Lilo-Crespo, M., Riquelme Golindo, J., Macrae, R., Abreu, W., Hanson, E., Holmerova, I., Cabaneor, M,J., Ferrer, R., Tolson, D. (2018) Experiences fo advanced dementia care in seven European countries: implications for educating the workforce. Global Health Action 11(1):1478686.


Hvalič-Touzery, S., BrigitaSkela-Savič, B.,   Macrae, R.,  Jack-Waugh, A., Tolson, D., Hellström, A.,  de Abreu, W., Pesjak, K. (2018) The provision of accredited higher education on dementia in six European countries: An exploratory study. Nurse Education Today 60, 161-169 

Tolson D (2020) Transforming advanced dementia: the Palliare Best Practice Statement, an interprofessional learning framework and tool for improvement .Nursing Standard. 35, 10, 56-59. doi: 10.7748/ns.35.10.56.s33.

Project Website:

Dementia Dogs

Project Title: The contribution of dementia dogs to living well with dementia: a realistic evaluation.

Researchers: Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Nick Jenkins, Dr Samuel Quinn, Dr Barbara Sharp and Professor Debbie Tolson.

Funders: Alzheimer Scotland

Date Completed: 2016

Overview: The Dementia Dog Project was developed through collaboration with Glasgow School of Art, Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled, and Guide Dogs UK in 2013. The project aims to train dogs to support people to live well with dementia. This study aimed to understand the contribution of Dementia Dogs to the lives of people with dementia and family caring. A realistic evaluation methodology was used to conduct a secondary analysis of project documents and artefacts alongside interviews with the project team. The research found that having a Dementia Dog can be beneficial to people living with dementia and their families, however this is dependent on the context of the situation and the promotion of the human-animal bond. Project



Ritchie, L., Quinn, S., Tolson, D., Jenkins, N., & Sharp, B. (2019). Exposing the mechanisms underlying successful animal-assisted interventions for people with dementia: A realistic evaluation of the Dementia Dog Project. Dementia, 1471301219864505.

Jenkins, N., Ritchie, L., & Quinn, S. (2020). From reflection to diffraction: exploring the use of vignettes within post-humanist and multi-species research. Qualitative Research, 1468794120920258.

Food for Thought

Project Title:   Enhancing the dignity of the person with advanced dementia using innovative methods to facilitate eating and drinking.

Research Team:  Dr Margaret Brown (UWS), Prof Pauline Banks (UWS),  Hazel McWhinnie (UWS), Janice McAllister (Erskine Care Home), Mrs Valerie Logan (Erskine Care Home) , Mrs Karen Heron (Erskine Care Home), and Mr John Booth (Erskine Care Home)

Status: Completed

Start Date:  2013-2014

Funder: Burdett Trust for Nursing and Queen’s Nursing Institute for Scotland



To enhance the dignity of the person with advanced dementia using innovative methods to facilitate eating and drinking.


  • To enhance dignity, quality of experience and improve dietary intake for the person with advanced dementia.
  • develop nurse-led innovative ways of identifying food and drink preferences.
  • develop a sustainable guide to enhance quality and choice for the person with advanced dementia

A nurse-led partnership approach included residents, family carers, speech and language, catering, and academic staff. Intensive education involving staff and family, led to an intervention period of 12 weeks where a sensory framework supported innovative ways of improving the experience of eating and drinking for the person with advanced dementia. The outcomes were an improved dietary intake, eating pleasure, independence and weight maintenance for the people with advanced dementia; empowered staff and family knowledge and innovation in supporting eating and drinking with improved collaboration among staff and families. This project underpins the framework to support eating and drinking for residents at Erskine. The learning has formed educational materials used in pre-registration and post-graduate learning at UWS and for family carers through the ASCPP Carer Academy.

Published report and film

Burdett Trust for Nursing and Queen’s Nursing Institute for Scotland (2014) Food for Thought online at

Conference presentations

Food for Thought 26/03/14  Queen’s Nursing Institute for Scotland Conference, Stirling

Enhancing Dignity in Dementia Care. 02/04/14.   The Sixth Scottish Caring & Dementia Congress Edinburgh

Food for Thought  8/04/16  Royal College of Nursing Edinburgh

Dementia education in primary schools

Researchers: Dr Louise Ritchie, Dr Susan Henderson-Bone, Angela Gregory, Dr Nick Jenkins

Project title: Understanding dementia education in primary schools from the perspective of the pupils

Project status: Dissemination

Funders: UWS Crucible Fund 2017

Overview: Using the Award-winning Understanding Dementia: Class in a Bag, this project aimed to explore the experiences of learning about dementia in a primary school setting from the perspectives of the pupils. The project used a participatory video approach, asking the pupils to film their own experiences of the dementia education session in order to understand what stood out to them and how interacting with the materials in the bag informed their understanding of dementia.

Publications: in preparation

policy influence

Fair Dementia Care

The Fair Dementia Care Commission was established by Alzheimer Scotland in 2017 to review and make recommendations on how Scotland cares for people living with advanced dementia. This hard hitting report reveals many inequalities facing individuals and families and makes a number of policy and system reforming recommendations. Not least, unfair charging policies and systems that don’t recognise or promote access to the expert health and nursing care that people with advanced dementia need.

The contribution of the ASCPP in developing a definition of advanced dementia was crucial to the Commission’s work and provides the basis for the main recommendations of the report. The lack of an agreed definition of advanced dementia has been a significant factor in our current, primarily social care, response to advanced dementia and gives rise to two glaring inequities;

  • An absence of equality of access to the health and nursing care that is available to people with other progressive and terminal illnesses
  • People with advanced dementia disproportionately impacted by social care charges for what are essentially health and nursing care needs which should be free.

The report recommended recognising advanced dementia as a continuum of living and moving beyond a preoccupation with death and dying (Hanson et al, 2016).  This definition enables us to recognise and respond to advanced dementia. In this way we can end these inequalities by ensuring that people living and dying with advanced dementia have access to the free specialist health and nursing care they need on an equal basis with those who have other progressive and terminal illnesses.

The report marked the beginning of one of the most significant campaigns Alzheimer Scotland has ever undertaken. It seeks to ensure that people in Scotland with advanced dementia have equality of access to the expert health and nursing care they need which is free in line with other progressive and terminal illnesses.  The Scottish Government have welcomed the recommendations of the Fair Dementia Care Campaign, and are currently considering them. A recent Scottish Parliamentary motion in support of Fair Dementia Care was supported by 53 of the eligible MSPs from all parties in the Parliament. Alzheimer Scotland in partnership with the ASCPP continue to build public and political support with the aim of securing a commitment from each of the main political parties to deliver fair dementia care for people with advanced dementia and their families ahead of the next Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2021.

Read the full report here and please pledge your support to the campaign

Cross Party Group on Dementia

The ASCPP is represented by Debbie and Margaret on this forum. MSPs, people living with dementia, family carers and members of the public with an interest engage in dialogue at quarterly meetings to inform policy development. The ASCPP members, with other practitioners and academics contribute their expertise to this process. The Working Group have produced a number of briefings to the Government on new and emerging issues that affect people living with dementia and others including family and supporters.

Dementia and Housing

We continue to play a key part in the Cross Party Working Group on Dementia in Edinburgh where people living with dementia, family carers, practitioners and academics meet quarterly to discuss key concerns. Debbie and Margaret attend these and maintain close contact with those attending. Our ‘Being Home’ Housing and dementia report was circulated, through this group, to all Health and Social Partnerships. The Group welcomed responses from many of these and the report has contributed to changes underway including the Housing and Development Practice Framework led by healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Housing and Dementia Practice Framework | ihub - Housing and dementia


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

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

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


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, 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 Fyfe, 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


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, Professional Advisor, Scottish Government

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.

Dr Barbara Sharp, Independent Consultant


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.

Jenny Henderson, Associate Lecturer, UWS

More information to appear here soon

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

Professor Elsa Sanatombi-Devi, Manipal College of Nursing, MAHE, India

More information to appear here soon 

Kirsty Stewart, Executive Lead of External Engagement, Alzheimer Scotland

More information to appear here soon 

Dr Bryan Mitchell, Lecturer, UWS

More information will appear here soon 

Dr Sam Quinn, Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

More information will appear here soon. 

Dr Nick Jenkins, Senior Lecturer, UWS

More information will appear here soon. 

Last updated: 27/03/2020