Dementia Care Specialist Workforce: Scope of Practice, Training, and Demand

Over five million older adults in the U.S. are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD); the prevalence of ADRD is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050. The costs of health care, long-term care, and hospice care for individuals with ADRD exceeded $236 billion in 2016, and will rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050. The estimated share of these costs covered by Medicare and Medicaid is expected to increase from $160 billion to over $735 billion by 2050. Dementia care specialists (DCS) have been proposed as an occupation to help keep older individuals in their homes. Nine California health plans currently have trained DCSs providing care coordination for individuals with ADRD and their caregivers. This study will examine the roles of DCS in California and how new CMS requirements for the training of these workers are being met. This project will focus on assessing the qualifications and scope of practice for the DCS workforce by identifying education, training, certification and roles.


Key Questions

  • What is the role and scope of practice for dementia care specialists?
  • What is the educational background, credentials, and qualifications of dementia care specialists?
  • What are the training requirements, including curriculum content, number of hours, certification, and standardization across training programs?
  • How do health plans address workforce retention, staff turnover, and recruitment of dementia care specialists?
  • How do health plans ensure compliance with the CMS requirements for dementia care coordination?
  • What is the current and future estimated demand for this workforce?


For questions, contact: Jason Flatt, PhD MPH, Assistant Professor, UCSF Institute for Health & Aging, [email protected]



A “New" Workforce in California: Exploring the role, preparation, and practice of Dementia Care Specialists, presented by Jason Flatt, PhD, RN, September 11, 2017.



UCSF HWRC authors Jason D. Flatt, PhD, Brooke A. Hollister, PhD, and Susan A. Chapman, PhD, RN have published their report Dementia Care Specialist Workforce in California: Role, Practice, Training and Demand. Nine health plans in California currently have trained dementia care specialists (DCSs) providing care coordination. The authors present findings on several key factors (e.g., policy, training, and institutional support) that may impact DCSs' role and practice. They suggest that DCSs represent a novel workforce for effectively providing care coordination for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (ADRD) and their caregivers. The report concludes that further efforts should be directed at translating evidence-based practices for dementia care coordination into health systems and to evaluate promising dementia care management practices. Future research on the impact of policy and workforce training and capability is needed to ensure effective care coordination for individuals with ADRD and their family caregivers.