The first 100 so-called dementia champions have started work across the country to improve standards of care for people with the illness.

Recruited from frontline healthcare staff in hospitals, they have been trained by the University of the West of Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland.

The Scottish Government had previously set out plans to recruit and train 300 champions by 2013 as part of the National Dementia Strategy. A dementia champion will raise awareness of the strategy and encourage better standards of care.

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Alzheimer Scotland nurses who specialise in dementia care are also being appointed in every health board in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has committed to introduce a national post-diagnostic support target for 2013 to ensure people receive the help they need after being diagnosed with the disease.

The Scottish Government said the guarantee is the first of its kind in the world and will ensure people diagnosed with dementia receive at least a year of "person-centred" support, provided by a healthcare worker.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Providing the very best care for every older person on every occasion, in care homes and hospitals, continues to be a personal priority for me.

"Our new dementia champions and Alzheimer Scotland dementia specialist nurses are starting work in health boards across Scotland, and these key changes show just how much we prioritise older people's care within Government.

"It is estimated up to 82,000 people in Scotland have dementia and we expect that to double over the next 25 years.

"The NHS and local authorities have to be well equipped to understand the care which people with dementia and their families are entitled to, in order to ensure that their dignity, independence and wishes are met."