Leaders of Tomorrow: Addie Abushousheh

Addie Abushousheh fell in love with architecture when she was a child.

As a country girl, she had learned to take just about anything—a railroad tie, loose board and construction nails—and create something worth playing with for hours. Her play became a calling during her fifth grade school year when a carpenter moved into her family home to help double its size.

“We had just finished laying the first floor subfloor,” Abushousheh recalls. “I was sitting at the top of the steps watching the sunset through the stud-framed walls and it just hit me: building places for people is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

Introducing our Leaders of Tomorrow awards

Long-Term Living is proud to introduce a new annual awards program: Leaders of Tomorrow. The five rising leaders featured daily this week were nominated and chosen by Long-Term Living’s esteemed editorial advisory board. Read more about the awards program here.

Monday: Addie Abushousheh, executive director, Association of Households International (AHHI)

Tuesday: Govind Bharwani, PhD, director of nursing ergonomics and Alzheimer's care, Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio , , , , Dad, Dayton, Day, D, d Days

Wednesday: Nancy Brody Kleinberg, CEO and administrator, Park Pleasant Nursing and Rehab Center, Philadelphia

Thursday: R. Gary Sibbald, BSc, MD, FRCPC (Med) (Derm), MEd, professor of public health and medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday: James Taylor, president, Sodexo Senior Living, Gaithersburg, Md.  

Her eyes were opened even further as high school science classes introduced her to genetics and physiology, and by college she craved a reason to combine her two loves. The answer she was longing for came during her senior year at Kansas State University when she heard Victor Regnier in the Netherlands share research that linked design to holistic healing.

“He connected all the dots,” she says. “I immediately knew what I wanted to do in my architectural profession.”

Abushousheh received her professional architecture degree, but didn’t choose the traditional route for her first job. Instead, she became an activity coordinator in a brain trauma unit for six months, and in 2002, took that front-line knowledge to Peacock Architects where she specialized in the design and development of medical campuses, single-physician practices, ambulatory centers and aging environments. The progressive and energetic environment there gave Abushousheh the freedom and foundation from which she would grow over the next decade.

Today, Abushousheh has become a highly regarded contributor in the shift from the medical-based model in the LTC industry to one based more upon a household blueprint. The household model involves person-centered care in an environment that feels, smells and looks more like a home than a medical center.

Abushousheh’s creativity and influence gained national exposure when she co-hosted the 2010 Next Steps Think Tank: Culture Change Consensus and the Household Model. The national conference brought together more than 30 leaders in the culture change movement and involved more than 200 individuals in discussions about the subject’s future.

It was at that conference that industry leaders asked Abushousheh to spearhead the newly formed Association of Households International (AHHI). She now serves as AHHI’s first executive director while finishing her PhD in architecture with an area of specialization in environment-aging relationships and a minor area in organizational communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Abushousheh travels the country speaking as an expert on the culture change model and is currently finishing her dissertation, which she hopes will serve more as a road map for cultural change in long-term care than a 300-page academic document.

The untapped potential is what excites Abushousheh most about the LTC field. She sees elders taking control of their later years and providers making major shifts in the delivery of their care. The tide is turning, but industry suppliers need to get on board to help make the transition easier. Continuing care retirement communities need commercial products and technology that cater to a more residential lifestyle opposed to a medical-based model. And those sitting at the drawing table need to be willing to think more creatively to make it happen.

Abushousheh realizes such a culture shift is no small task, but is convinced its outcome will be extraordinary.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” she says. “It is a really complex landscape to navigate and accommodate, but it will be so absolutely rich.”  

Julie Thompson is a freelance writer based in Dayton, Ohio.

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