Introduction The medical and social care of older people with dementia has become an international concern. As life expectancy continues to rise in European countries, the number of people with dementia is forecast to grow steadily over the next 25 years and this will require greater input from professional services and informal carers alike. Thus, it is important to promote international collaboration to exchange information and practice and to develop culturally appropriate dementia services (Alzheimer's Society, 2004). Specialist care management for older people with dementia is an area of practice in which there is much scope for innovation and development. However, a national survey of old age psychiatry services in England and Northern Ireland revealed that just 24% of old age services had specialist dementia services with designated members of staff and that links between health and social care provision were frequently poor (Challis et al, 2002a).