A new Trinity College study has found that just 11% of nursing homes have dedicated dementia care units.
The research found that Sligo, Wicklow, Carlow, Westmeath, Kilkenny and Offaly have no such units at all - with half of all facilities located in just five counties.
Best practice recommends that people with dementia should be in small units of no more than 10 people - however, out of the 470 nursing homes examined - the average number of residents per unit was 19 and, in some cases, reached as high as 29.
The report, entitled ‘An Irish National Survey of Dementia in Long-Term Residential Care’, found that dementia-specific care units (SCUs) have evolved in an "arbitrary, fragmented and uncoordinated manner".
The researchers identified large gaps in service provision, especially in Leinster, and excessive numbers of patients in individual housing units.
The report also shows that the private sector provides the majority of the high dependency care, but receives the least funding.
According to the Trinity researchers, the report underlines the need for a new funding model to further incentivise the private sector.
Commenting on how the Irish findings compare with international practice, lead author, Research Associate Professor Cahill (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity and Director of the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre), said: "Of some concern is the fact that only 11% of all the Irish facilities surveyed have dedicated dementia units and, despite an expected increase in demand for long-term dementia care arising as a result of population ageing, only a small minority of Irish nursing homes intend opening dementia units."