Celebrating Activity Professionals

This month on the blog, we're celebrating National Activity Professionals week, we're highlighting what NCCDP has in store for you this year.

A Message from our CEO:

Hello NCCDP Community,

The beginning of 2024 marks not just a new chapter in the calendar but also in our journey at NCCDP. As we embark on this new year, I am excited to share that our focus will be on enhancing our offerings, expanding our reach, and continuing to innovate in the field of dementia education. Our goal is not just to maintain our standards but to elevate them, ensuring that every interaction and every service we provide is best-in-class.

This newsletter will be a component of these efforts as we are always seeking ways to strengthen connectivity with our members. We envision the newsletter serving as a platform to share helpful content, celebrate achievements, and learn from each other. I encourage each of you to engage with it, contribute your ideas, and help us make it a valuable resource for our community. Being part of the NCCDP network is more than a professional designation; it’s a commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.

As we move forward, let’s renew this commitment and not just meet but exceed the expectations of those we serve. Together, we can make 2024 a remarkable year for the countless lives we touch.

THANK YOU for being a part of this incredible journey!


Patrick Smith

Chief Executive Officer, NCCDP

Please welcome Denise Scruggs as our new Director of Education!

Denise is an enthusiastic and caring dementia care professional and educator whose thirty-year career has spanned higher education, long-term care, independent living, memory care, adult day services, continuing care, and assisted living. She was also a family caregiver for her mom and grandmother, who were diagnosed with dementia.

Denise is a veteran NCCDP staff member and trainer who has served as Vice President of Corporate Training for six years and as a CDP/CADDCT for over fifteen years. Among her accomplishments, she is the author of the ICCDP Montessori Professional certification program.

Denise holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is also a certified activity director through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals.

Denise Scruggs is passionate about quality dementia care and education. She looks forward to continuing her work at NCCDP.

Spotlight On: Tyler Mizak

Tyler is a new CDP with a passion for his residents and his profession. We are very honored to have him as a member, and we are thrilled to spotlight him this month in honor of his hard work and dedication, as well as National Activity Professionals Week!

“My love for working with seniors began when I met my fiancé three years ago, when he was in nursing school studying to become an LPN, while working at a personal care home. He would tell me so many stories about the seniors he cared for and how they changed his outlook on life. I was so interested that, and despite never working in the healthcare field before, I applied to be a Personal Care Aide at that same personal care home.

I worked there for about a year before transferring to the activities department. Life later took a turn for the better, when a huge opportunity came up to work for the company, Integracare, at Colonial Courtyard in Bedford, PA, as the Activity Director for their senior living community.

Like anyone starting a new job would feel, I feared what the residents would think of me or what if my activities weren’t good enough? I heard so many good things about the previous Activities Director and constantly thought, ‘what if I couldn’t fill those shoes?’ But, within my first week at Colonial Courtyard, I realized this is where I was meant to be. The residents loved me, and I loved them all the same. 

My residents learned very quickly that I wasn’t going to be a ‘Boring Activities Director.’ Within my first month, I established that every other Wednesday would be ‘Wine Wednesday’, complete with four types of wine to sample, a charcuterie board for each resident, a different theme every single time (it’s been a whole year in this position, and I still haven’t repeated a theme!!), and of course, a mocktail choice! I’ve learned that its best to be the ‘crazy, messy, loud, grandkid’ that all the residents have, but don’t get to see every day, but, I guess, a more grown-up version! What does that mean exactly?

It means having as much laughter from joking around as physical exercise, it means letting the residents make the biggest mess they can possibly make because a lot of them were the ones that had to clean it up throughout their lives and now, they don’t have to worry about it anymore! It’s letting the residents throw a pie in your face because if you asked any 70 to 100 year-olds if they ever thought they would get to put a pie in someone’s face that they would say yes? No way!!

After a few months of working as the Activities Director for our senior living residents, I was offered the position to start a dual-role and become the Activities Director for our memory care neighborhood. I wasn’t too familiar with Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, or anything related to it. After accepting the position, I quickly realized that I needed to become more familiar with Dementia and the residents affected by having Dementia. Which is when I signed up to become a Certified Dementia Practitioner, which changed my entire outlook on Dementia and memory care overall.

I felt as though I understood the residents so much more and was able to better understand their needs and what they were asking for, even when they’re unable to fully verbalize there needs after taking the course. I feel empowered to create a daily activities schedule, including ADL’s, for my residents because I am now more confident in myself, not only because of the completing the CDP certification class, but also because of how my residents react to me. In my opinion, memory care is no different than senior living. Memory care residents in my community tend to like the ‘crazy activities’ even more than senior living residents! It gives me so much excitement that I have the power to train new team members on the types of Dementia and how we can properly take care of residents affected by Dementia.

My most popular activities are those that involve the messes like: ‘peanut butter ping-pong’, which is when I covered my head in peanut butter, without a hat or shower cap, and let the residents aim for the top of my head to get the ping-pong balls to stick! Another popular activity was ‘cheese heads’. During this activity, I covered my head with shaving cream and the goal for the residents was to get cheese balls to stick to my head!

I feel as though my job is to give these residents the time of their life while they are with me, because who wants to just sit in their room and stare at walls or watch re-runs on TV?
Which is why, in our area, Colonial Courtyard at Bedford is known as “the fun place to live”, because we do things like putting a 40-foot tarp down the small hill in front of our building with a water hose and dish soap, then pulling our residents down on a snow tube to make one giant slip-n-slide! I can’t forget about the time that I bought twelve artificial Christmas trees to create an indoor forest, dressed up as a deer, and ran around for the residents to go deer hunting using nerf guns, with me as their target!

Crazy activities are a key part in my community to keep the residents on their toes and to keep life exciting, not only for the residents, but our staff as well! Being part of a great team that offers so much support is a major part in the success of activities. I work with amazing departments in my community including wellness, dietary, activities, housekeeping, and marketing. Another huge part in the success of activities is the amazing group of people that make up our leadership, or management, team, that I am proud to be a part of.”


New Year Greetings!

As NCCDP heads into its 21st year in operation, we are looking forward to many more years of providing dementia education, certification, and new programs to further contribute to the quality of life of those with dementia and their caregivers.

We are grateful for the strong relationships we have developed through the years with all our members and organizations, and we are enthusiastic as we embark on growing our radius to meet new members, collaborators, and partners!

As Co-founder of the NCCDP I am proud of and have seen a wonderful journey as we have developed new certifications as you, our members, and the greater public have indicated the need for more education, awareness, and specific professional certifications to contribute to enhancing the lives of those impacted by and living with dementia.

Entering 2024 with this inaugural newsletter, we look forward to bringing you news from NCCDP, highlights of “champions” who are contributing to dementia care in amazing ways, and as always, global cutting-edge information to keep us all abreast of what is happening in the field of dementia care.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year,

Lynn Biot-Gordon

Co-founder, NCCDP

Upcoming Seminars:

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care (ADDC) Seminar:


Thursday, January 25: ONLINE – Eastern Time Click HERE To Register!

Friday, January 26: IN-PERSON, PHILADELPHIA Click HERE To Register!

Tuesday, January 30: ONLINE – Pacific Time Click HERE To Register!

Thursday, February 8: ONLINE- Eastern Time Click HERE To Register!

Tuesday, February 13: ONLINE- Central Time Click HERE To Register!

Tuesday, March 5: ONLINE- Central Time Click HERE To Register!

Wednesday, March 13: ONLINE- Eastern Time Click HERE To Register!

Tuesday, March 19: ONLINE- Mountain Time Click HERE To Register!

Thursday March 21: ONLINE- Pacific Time Click HERE To Register!


Montessori Concepts in Dementia Care Seminar:

Tuesday, April 9: ONLINE- Eastern Time Click HERE To Register!

Thursday, August 8: ONLINE- Eastern Time Click HERE To Register!

Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP)

This certification is open to all healthcare professionals, front-line staff, clergy, and other medical professionals who work in and around the geriatric healthcare industry and have at least one full year of paid experience. It focuses on person-centered care, maintaining independence, and avoiding infantilization.

Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional Trainer (CMDCPT)

As a Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional Trainer, you will be certified to present our comprehensive Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care (ADDC) curriculum to professionals across multiple industries within the geriatric healthcare industry.

Healthcare Observances January 2024

  1. January 21-27- National Activity Professionals Week
  2. January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day
  3. January 12- National Pharmacists Day

Reimagining Dementia is a coalition dedicated to changing the stigma associated with Dementia.

They have a set of quarterly meetings scheduled on February 20, 21, and 22. Here’s a link with more information if needed.

Reimagining Dementia Events

January 14th, 2024 is National Dress Up Your Pet Day!

Fresca & Angus

Melanie Stovin
Director of Membership Services


Patrick Smith

About the Author

Picture of NCCDP Staff


The NCCDP staff consists of a full team of experts in dementia care & education.