An immigrant nursing home worker helps a resident

A new certification program based on the renowned Montessori method of education is now available to dementia caregivers. 

Last week, the International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners rolled out the new seven-hour program, which awards caregivers the title of Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional following completion of the program.

Denise Scruggs, vice president of corporate training for the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, helped develop the program. Scruggs spent many years as a professional caregiver and told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse the goal of the program is to avoid infantilizing dementia patients and to help caregivers set a higher set of expectations for the patients they serve.

“When we have lower expectations that impacts how we communicate,” Scruggs explained. “Do we ever have a conversion with someone who has been diagnosed with dementia to find out what their opinions are? Do we engage them socially in conversations? A lot of times we don’t. We only engage them when we’re involved in tasks with them.”

The Montessori method of education was developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early part of the 20th Century. The system focuses on letting children develop natural interests and activities. It also emphasizes independence and views children as naturally eager for knowledge and learning. While Scruggs emphasizes that dementia patients should never be treated like children, she says Montessori’s concepts easily extend to adults. 

“We keep hearing that people want to re-look at how we address people living with dementia,” Scruggs explained. “What is key is that we need to help them live until the end of their lives and not simply wait to die. 

The International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners was established in 2015 to provide international standards in dementia care through education and certification. The Montessori certificate is only offered to professional caregivers and must be renewed every two years. Additional details and fees for the program can be found on the ICCDP website at

This article originally appeared on McKnights Home Care