Those who meet Dayne DuVall are immediately struck by his zeal for excellence in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. It’s an important quality for someone serving as chief operating officer (COO) of the Chicago-based National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care (NCBAC). The organization offers testing to ensure that individuals have specific knowledge and confers the designations of certified Alzheimer’s caregivers (CAC) and certified Alzheimer’s educators (CAEd).
“Passionate” is the impression DuVall made on Carmen Vitton, MS, CCC-SLP, who successfully nominated DuVall for consideration for a 2015 Long-Term Living Leaders of Tomorrow award. Vitton, COO of Rehab Synergies, a Texas-based provider of physical, occupational and speech-language therapy services, met DuVall at the 2014 LeadingAge annual meeting. “He’s just so very passionate about ensuring that people have appropriate and adequate education and training and understanding the needs of patients suffering from dementia,” she says.
DuVall’s excitement was so contagious, and DuVall’s reasoning so compelling, that Rehab Synergies invited him to speak at the company’s directors’ meeting a few months later, and 10 employees have since taken or are planning to take the test to become CAEds. (See this companion article to read about the benefits of therapists being involved in dementia care.)
The exuberance DuVall exhibits today stems from a personal connection to the disease and a general belief in quality.
“My mom and I were my father’s primary caregivers, and the last five years of his life, he was in a nursing home,” he says. “I just assumed that everybody got proper care, because the nursing home that he was at in Florida was exceptional. They educated their staff. There was very little turnover.
“It was a rude awakening when I came into this business and found that nursing homes don’t have all of the tools that they need, because the people just are not trained properly in dementia care. So that has been my mission: to make sure that people with Alzheimer’s and their families receive proper care.”
DuVall’s path to his current position may seem circuitous, but his previous roles fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Fashion editor positions in Atlanta and New York segued into his launching a fashion accessory company, working with well-known designers and department stores. When the retail environment changed, DuVall returned to his native Florida and worked as an interior design and special events planner for more than 25 years.
Eventually, however, “I thought, there’s got to be something more important than making people pretty or making their things pretty,” he says, so he went back to school to become a licensed massage therapist. As DuVall was finishing school, his sister received a diagnosis of breast cancer, so he decided to focus his subsequent practice on helping people who were undergoing treatment for cancer, and he became an advocate for those with breast cancer. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards invited DuVall to contribute his expertise to its licensing exam development efforts, and through that work he gained experience in test development and government relations. During that time, DuVall also met NCBAC’s founder. He’s been using his additional accumulated and honed skills in management, finance, marketing, public relations and sales for the benefit of the organization for about two years.
Today, DuVall keeps very busy visiting conferences and companies from his home base in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., explaining the certification process to anyone who is interested. Contrary to programs that award certificates for completing a specific course of study offered by the program, the NCBAC does not require particular training; rather, it certifies through testing that an individual possesses certain skills and a body of knowledge deemed essential to care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders, or to educate those who provide such care. Before taking the exam, candidates can pursue whatever training they wish or is required by their state or employer. (Visit the NCBAC’s website, www.ncbac.net, for additional information.)
DuVall also is COO of the certified relocation and transition specialist (CRTS) program, a separate, trademarked certification governed by NCBAC. Those with the CRTS designation help older adults cull their belongings in advance of a move to another residence. He holds the certification himself, not using it professionally but finding it helpful to stay up to date with the program. “It’s a whole industry that didn’t even exist 15 years ago,” DuVall says. “It’s unregulated, so we are the organization that certifies people and are the stamp of approval saying, ‘We have the skills and the knowledge to take care of your loved one and help them relocate.’ ”