In the 1980s, special care units devoted to persons with dementia (SCU) were established, and in the 1990s, a new system of sheltered housing for persons with dementia (SH) was inaugurated.
The aim of this study was to examine the establishment of SCUs and SH units and to explore the effects of varying patient-staff ratios and unit sizes.
On five occasions (1996/1997, 2000/2001, 2004/2005, 2008, 2010/2011), a detailed questionnaire was sent by post to all Norwegian municipalities. It contained questions about the provision of services for persons with dementia.
In 1996/1997, 70% of the municipalities had SCUs and 13.3% of the beds in Norwegian nursing homes were in SCUs. In 2010/11, 87% of the municipalities had such services, which filled 23.8% of the beds in nursing homes. The number of beds in SH units increased from 856 beds in 1996/1997 to 2181 beds in 2010/11. SCUs have on average three patients per carer on an ordinary weekday day-time shift. These numbers have been quite stable throughout the study period. The ratio is about 3.5 patients per carer in the SH units and is also stable.
The rate of increase in the provision of institutional beds facilitated for persons with dementia has been slow in Norway over the last 14 years. Both SCUs and SH units seem to have stable staffing ratios and the number of beds in each unit is also stable.