In a number of countries Special Care Units (SCUs) have been established to meet the particular needs of patients with dementia. The criteria for SCUs are poorly defined and often not met.Aim
To assess the frequency distributions of dementia, psychiatric and behavioural symptoms and the use of psychotropic medication in SCUs and Regular Units (RUs) across different regions.Methods and material
By means of a structured interview, comprising the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale and Lawton's Physical Self-maintenance scale, a representative sample of 1163 nonselected nursing home patients was assessed. In addition, information was collected from the patients' records.Results
Overall SCU patients were significantly more likely to be younger, to have higher level of functioning, to have dementia, to exhibit clinically significant psychiatric and behavioural symptoms and to receive psychotropic medication. There were significant differences across regions in terms of psychiatric and behavioural symptoms and the use of psychotropic medication. The ratio of accommodation in SCUs to that in RUs varied across the regions.Conclusion
Patients in SCUs and patients in RUs are distinct nursing home populations. Regional differences, which might be due to diverse ratios of SCUs, are evident.