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New Specialist Dementia Care Program Unit for North Queensland

Published 29 October 2020

Good Shepherd Lodge in Mackay is the site of North Queensland’s first Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) unit.


It is one of three locations in Queensland successful in the Commonwealth Government’s first round of funding for the new program, along with Brisbane South and Brisbane North.
The program aims to:

  • provide care for people exhibiting severe symptoms of dementia who are unable to be effectively cared for by mainstream aged care services
  • enable residential aged care providers to deliver care in a dedicated dementia-friendly environment
  • provide intensive, specialised residential care with a focus on stabilising and reducing the person’s symptoms over time with the aim of enabling transition to a less intensive care setting.

Barbara Cunningham, who has been appointed as the Specialist Dementia Care Coordinator at Good Shepherd Lodge, said the new unit opened in July 2020.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Good Shepherd Lodge to be among the first aged care homes in Australia to establish this specialist capability in dementia care, with our residents and the wider community set to benefit from the advanced skills and knowledge of the staff in the unit,” Ms Cunningham said. 

“Whilst the Queensland services are based in Mackay and Brisbane, the Specialist Dementia Care Program is borderless. Any client or resident can be referred from any geographical area or any service and benefit from this specialised service.

"The objective is that residents would only reside in the unit for a short period of time until the specialist support and care they receive enables them to transition into a general aged care setting after that period.

"We know there is a growing need for specialist dementia care in Australia and that units like these will be important assets in our local community.”

Ms Cunningham said the unit would incorporate eight beds, plus an additional bed, to accommodate people who may need to be readmitted if their transition out is not successful.

Residents are admitted to the unit via a specialised referral pathway through Dementia Support Australia (DSA). 

For more information please contact Barbara Cunningham at

How to Refer to Dementia Support Australia (DSA)

A person living with dementia, or a carer (care worker, health professional, or family carer) can seek support from DSA for their self or for a person living with dementia who is experiencing behaviours and psychological symptoms that impact their care or the way care is provided.

DSA can be contacted 24/7, 365 days a year:

Last updated: 29 October 2020