Abstract Background The prevalence of dementia is surging that results in huge service demand in the community care services. Dementia care competence of staff working in these settings is fundamental of the care quality. This project aims to examine the effects of staff training on their competence for the anticipated challenges in dementia care and explore how the training influence their care practices. Methods This study adopted a mixed methods triangulation design, including a prospective multi-center study with pre-test post-test evaluations and a narrative analysis of the participants’ reflective essays. Seventeen experienced health and social care professionals were trained as trainers at the Dementia Services Development Centre of the University of Stirling, UK. The trainers provided local facilitator training to staff members by using training materials that were culturally adapted to the local context. The facilitators were required to deliver 12 two-hour in-service training sessions for 6 months to their colleagues in a small group format in their respective workplace. Eventually a total of 1347 staff members from community care centers, day care centers, outreach teams and care homes of 70 non-government organizations in Hong Kong participated in the study between April 2017 and December 2018. Validated instruments were used to measure knowledge, attitude, sense of competence in dementia care and job satisfaction at the baseline and at 12-month follow-up. All participants were required to write a reflective essay to describe their experiences in dementia care by the end of the training. Results A total of 1264 participants, including 195 facilitators and 1069 learners, completed all assessment were included for analysis. Significant improvements were observed in all outcomes at the 12-month follow-up assessment (Ps ≤ .001). The magnitude of improvements in attitudes was the largest. The findings also showed that the effects of the training program significantly varied across different groups of learners in terms of age, occupation, work and training experience. Conclusions This community-wide large-scale project provided evidence that the train-the-trainer model and reflective learning are effective means to facilitate situated learning that promote awareness and understanding of dementia, and consequently enhance sustainability of changes in care practices.