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Debbie Tolson

Professor, PhD MSc BSc(Hons) PFHEA RGN, Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia, Assistant Dean Research and Enterprise

Accepting PhD Students


Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

Professor Debbie Tolson joined University of the West of Scotland as the inaugural Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice in January 2013. In addition to Centre Directorship she is the Assistant Dean Research and Enterprise within the School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery.   She is a nurse leader with an international reputation for advancing evidence informed dementia care and gerontological practice. 

In 2010 her contribution to research with older people was recognised by St Louis University (USA) Medical School through the award of the Jim Flood Memorial Alzheimer Disease Distinguished Lectureship. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing UK, and an Honorary Fellow of the Queen's Nursing Institute: Scotland. She was the recipient of the Sigma Theta Tau International, 2007 award for the Best of Worldviews on Evidence Based Nursing. Her research outputs include over 100 peer reviewed research papers, national care guidance for nurses and patients, edited books and book chapters, radio broadcasts, creative performance and popular press. She has secured research funding in excess of £5million   from a range of sources, including Research Council, Chief Scientist Office, EU, industry, UK and charitable organisations.

Current research activities

Current research studies focussed on living the best life possible with dementia.  Ranging from studies of the experience of people with early onset dementia who receive their diagnosis when employed, delirium management in acute hospitals, to studies with older people who have advanced to severe dementia. Education studies focus on equipping the qualified dementia workforce with the skills they need to champion reform and best practice where they work.  All studies are applied and seek to inform both practice and policy for example our European Project - Dementia Palliare. 

Desired research direction

Our priority within the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS is to undertake studies that inform and support family caring and integrated evidence informed dementia practice. In particular I am interested in experience based research and the development of innovations to support individuals and family to live the best life possible with advanced and severe dementia. 

Target collaborative companies

We would like to work with family carers, individuals, care home providers, day care providers and technology based companies interested in dementia.  With first responders including fire, police and ambulance services and practitioners from criminal justice and prison services where an increasing number of people with cognitive impairments including people with dementia are finding themselves. 

Education / Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Glasgow Caledonian University

Bachelor of Science (Hons.), London South Bank University

Master of Science, University of London

External positions

Executive Member , Scottish Dementia

2014 → …


  • RT Nursing
  • Dementia
  • Gerontology

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Research Output 2007 2018

ES1D: A deep network for EEG-based subject identification

Arnau González, P., Katsigiannis, S., Ramzan, N., Tolson, D. & Arevalillo-Herráez, M. 11 Jan 2018 IEEE 17th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE), 2017 . IEEE, (IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE))

Research output: Research - peer-reviewConference contribution

Open Access

The provision of accredited Higher Education on dementia in six European countries: an exploratory study

Hvalič-Touzery, S., Skela-Savič, B., MacRae, R., Waugh, A., Tolson, D., Hellström, A., Abreu, W. & Pesjak, K. 1 Jan 2018 In : Nurse Education Today. 60, p. 161-169 9 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Delivery of Health Care

Being Home: Housing and Dementia in Scotland (2017)

Brown, M., Tolson, S., Ritchie, L., Sharp, B., Syme, K., James, K. & Tolson, D. Jun 2017 Lanarkshire: University of the West of Scotland. 102 p.

Research output: ResearchCommissioned report

Open Access
Open Access
Work Place
Health Priorities
Quality of Health Care
Practice Guidelines

Activities 2015 2015

  • 1 Oral presentation

A staff developed intervention for reducing agitation in residents living with dementia

Edgerton, E. (Speaker), Tolson, D. (Speaker), Dewar, B. (Speaker)
2 Dec 20153 Dec 2015

Activity: Oral presentation


Learning systems