• My CDP Path & "Big Picture" Learning

    Erica Hornthal

    My arrival into the senior care industry was by answering an ad that promised I could plan events, go shopping and be creative.  I thought "This is awesome!" I could do all of the things that I love to do and get paid.  I could use my time in college as a music major and do something fun.  I went to the interview and they hired me on the spot. 

    Being new to the industry my first couple months were a little challenging, to say the least. I grew to love working with seniors. However, that was over 15 years ago.

    During my time in the industry I immersed myself in the day-to-day activities and asked questions of nurses and doctors to learn more about the residents regarding their physical and mental health.  I was also determined to learn more about the Nursing Home Industry and completed the course work to become a Nursing Home Administrator. 

    I decided to take this course to better understand hot to operate a Nursing Home as well as the Nursing Home regulations and how to best serve residents.  I never went on to become an administrator.  Which is one decision that I have never regretted.  Being an administrator means being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  However, the decision to take the course work has been critical to my success in this industry.  Having the ability to see the “Big Picture” and understand why decision are made has been priceless.

    As I spend more time in the industry, I had the opportunity to work in many roles and many different types of senior communities.  I grew to love the time spent with seniors with dementia.  I was learning something new everyday about the role of non-medical interventions when working with someone with dementia and I wanted to learn more.

    I started researching and found out about advanced dementia training through the National Council for Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP).  After looking into the training and I jumped in head first.  I have now been a Certified Dementia Practitioner for 4 years and plan to renew this certification.  This certification and it’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) has helped me to learn and understand techniques for working with persons with dementia. It has also shown me ways to teach others these valuable skills including family members that want to be able to spend quality time with their loved ones.  This training has led me to seek out additional education opportunities and ways that I can create a sense of calm for the people I work with.  Since then I have become a Certified Virtual Dementia Tour Trainer.

    I truly believe that my passion for serving older adults, in the best way possible, is what sparked my journey in stay aware of what is happening in this industry through the certification and training opportunities that are available.  My advice is to grab those opportunity when you can.