The collaboration between the DSDT and colleagues in DEMCARES in Chennai, India officially started in November 2016 when a proposal was tabled at that month’s Trustees Meeting.

DEMCARES (Dementia Care in SCARF) is part of SCARF (Schizophrenia Research Foundation), a leading mental health non-profit organisation based in Chennai (former Madras) which, with a population of over 7 million people, is the capital of the south west state of Tamil Nadu.

DEMCARES started as the first project in 2015 under SCARF to specifically provide clinical and support services for people with dementia and their carers. Four years later, it is now a well-established institution with services and initiatives that are making a huge impact on the awareness of dementia and those who have lived experience of the condition. That is why, the DSDT has been proud to support DEMCARES along their journey by funding DEMCARES staff visits to Scotland and the very first workshop on dementia care at SCARF’s biannual international meeting in Chennai.

The main catalyst for this fruitful collaboration has been Dr Sridhar Vaitheswaran, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist who trained in Scotland and worked as consultant in NHS Grampian for many years and who went back to Chennai in 2015. During his years in Scotland he pioneered several initiatives such as General Practitioners training and remote service to Shetland among others. His connections with the Dementia Services Development Centre and with colleagues related to the DSDT started when he was working in Scotland and have continued to this day.

DEMCARES in SCARF are now embarking in an ambitious project of building the first non-profit hospital for people with dementia with significant levels of stress and distress in the whole Tamil Nadu. The construction has now started and the hospital will be purpose-built for people with dementia in line with the Dementia Services Development Centre standards.

From front left to right: Drs Lakshmi Venkatraman (Consultant General Psychiatrist), Cesar Rodriguez-Castello (Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist and Trustee) and Sridhar Vaitheswaran (Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist and Founder of DEMCARES); at SCARF India Building Main Entrance in Chennai, India, December 2017.


Building capacity and improving knowledge and skills amongst staff at DEMCARES was one of the objectives of the collaboration between the DSDT (“The Trust”) and our colleagues in Chennai.

Ms Adhi Kannan, Registred Nurse, and Ms Monisha Lakshminarayanan, Clinical Psychologist, where the first staff members of DEMCARES to benefit from a funded visit to Scotland funded by the Trust in order to bring back home new ways of caring for people with dementia and their carers.

Adhi and Monisha spent 6 weeks during May/June 2017 as observers in NHS Tayside where they learnt about dementia care provided in different settings and delivered by different teams with the NHS and partners in Scotland. The clinical experience took place in the community with Community Mental Health Teams for Older People and Dementia Post Diagnostic Support Teams as well as in in-patient areas. They learnt about multidisciplinary work and the importance of health and social work integration as well as the role of the third sector and national institutions in Scotland.

They had the opportunity to visit the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in Stirling University and present on their work in Chennai. They also attended a two-day course on “Meaningful Activity for People with Dementia” at the DSDC, a Dementia Conference in Aberdeen and Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference on 2nd June 2017.

From left to right: Ms Adhi Kannan, Dr Cesar Rodriguez-Castello and Ms Monisha Lakshmionarayanan at Alzheimer Scotland Annual Meeting in Edinburgh in June 2017

From left to right: Dr Sridhar Vaitheswaran, Ms Shirley Law, DSDC, Dr Cesar Rodriguez-Castello, Ms Monisha Lakshminarayanan and Ms Adhi Kannan at the Dementia Services Development Centre, Stirling University, June 2017


SCARF India organises biannual International Meetings in Chennai. During VIII conference by SCARF conference in Chennai, the DSDT collaborated with DEMCARES in SCARF to organise the pre-conference workshop on dementia in August 2018. The first of this kind, the workshop was funded and supported by the Trust and it focused on the management of symptoms associated with dementia. The audience was mainly General Practitioners and other professionals working in the community as well as those working in psychiatric services across the region.

This was a great opportunity to deliver a workshop in Chennai that explained the evidence based approaches to person-centred dementia care and the contents were approved by the DSDC.

A part from this workshop, the DSDT also funded the delivery of a training programme by DEMCARES staff to 25 health care assistants within a community college in Chennai in order to increase capacity of skilled staff to care for people with dementia. This included the first month of teaching session followed by a period of six months of clinical supervision.

Dr Smita Deshpande, Professor of Psychiatry, New Delhi, opening the pre-conference workshop on “Managment of Dementia”, Chennai, August 2018 

Dr Cesar Rodriguez and the DEMCARES Team at the SCARF-IConS VIII Bi-Annual Conference, Chennai, August 2018


The second member of DEMCARES Team in Chennai to be funded by DSDT was Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Vaishnavi Ramanujam.

Her observership in NHS Tayside took place from 15 April to 24 May 2019 and she was based at the Psychiatry of Old Age facility in Dundee, Kingsway Care Centre. Dr Cesar Rodriguez was her Clinical Supervisor during this period of attachment to NHS Tayside.

The objectives of her visit was, once again, to enhance her knowledge in not only the medical assessment and management of mental disorders in older people (including dementia) but also in the role of the whole multidisciplinary team. Her experienced was gained in different settings and teams both in the community and in-patient facilities and care homes.

Time spent with Focus on Dementia Team, iHub, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and partners (NHS Education for Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland,…) gave Dr Vaishnavi the opportunity to learn about the whole system approach to dementia care in Scotland. Other visits and contacts with other Health Boards and the Dementia Services Development Centre increased in her knowledge and understanding of dementia care in Scotland.

Dr Vaishnavi Ramanujam and Dr Cesar Rodriguez at the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, Spring Conference where Dr Vaishnavi presented “Elderly Mental Health in Developing Countries – with special focus on India” on 17th May 2019

Dementia Services Development Trust  13th September 2019