The optimal model of care for patients with delirium in tertiary institutions is unknown. The aim of this project was to assess whether managing delirious patients in a secure unit could improve quality of care without significantly increasing the cost. We set up a delirium and surveillance unit at a tertiary hospital in Western Australia. The key elements of the unit were to provide a secure environment with staff trained and committed to delirium care. Patient care was based on comprehensive geriatric principles. The activities and outcomes were audited over an initial period after the establishment of the unit and a second audit was conducted following improvements based on the results of the initial audit. Managing patients in a delirium unit improves quality of care of patients and is cost-effective. The best model appears to be one where there is a dedicated consultant-led unit with ongoing staff education.