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Julie Adduci

Continuing a Legacy of Caring

By Laura Kuhn

When Julie Adduci was 12 years old, her parents bought a bigger home for their growing household. No, they weren't preparing for a new baby - they needed room for Adduci's grandmother and grandfather to move in with them. While he couldn't have known it then, her father was setting Adduci on a life-long path of caring for others. "My father's respect for people older than himself was palpable," Adduci recalled. "I think that set the tone for me to be interested in how someone is aging and what their life is like, what respect should be afforded to people."

Her mother, too, encouraged Adduci on her path of caring for others. "My mother often told me she admired the work I did and that she was so proud of how my life was turning out. That meant a great deal to me as she was a strong and caring woman," Adduci said.

The guidance and support that she received from her parents became deeply ingrained in Adduci and shaped who she was to become. Her life has been a blend of caring for family members in need and serving residents of long-term care facilities. No matter who is on the receiving end of her attention, Adduci has the same goal: to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

The winding road to The British Home

Adduci is currently the administrator at The British Home, a long-term care facility in Brookfield, Illinois, but she took a winding path to get there. After marrying, she took a job at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. While there, she befriended Gloria Bialek, the head of MacNeal's social work department. Bialek was impressed with Adduci and recruited her to perform a study on DRGs. She also encouraged Adduci to go to college to become a social worker. With MacNeal footing the bill for her education, Adduci began taking night classes to obtain a degree in social work. Degree in hand, she began working as a social service designee at MacNeal.

After 14 years at MacNeal, Adduci left to care for her newborn daughter, who had health issues that required close attention. Three years later, she had another daughter. While Adduci was home with her children, Bialek had left her post at MacNeal to take a new job at Plymouth Place, a senior living community in LaGrange Park, Illinois. Bialek was tasked with preparing the facility for its first Joint Commission survey and called Adduci in an effort to persuade her to join her part-time at the new facility. Adduci agreed, and the two worked together for two years preparing for the survey. Adduci would ultimately spend 13 years at Plymouth Place.

"It was a very well-rounded position and I had tremendous growth during my time there," Adduci said. "I wasn't sure that long-term care would be my thing because I went for the excitement. But in long-term care, I got to know people, their families, their friends - and I really began to like that. It was a continuing care retirement community, so most of the folks who move in stay with you until they pass on. I really began to enjoy the relationship-building portion of my job."

Bialek eventually retired from Plymouth Place, but she and Adduci still maintain constant contact. "She was such a gift to me in my life," Adduci said. "I thank God all the time for her. We still talk to each other all the time. She's a phenomenal woman."

Adduci would go on to serve as Plymouth Place's resident service director before leaving Plymouth Place in 2004 to care for her ailing mother and help her sister with a new baby. These were just the latest acts of generosity from a woman whose life has been peppered with caring for those closest to her.

"I've been a one-on-one caregiver for much of my life and it created a sensitivity in me," Adduci said. "It helped me to be empathetic for others. When you work in a job like we do, when someone presents what's going on in their life, you know how they're feeling. Caring for others also helped keep my family close - I can't tell you how much I love my brothers and sisters and their spouses."

Finding her new home at The British Home

When her sister's baby was older and Adduci had found a babysitter for the child, Adduci began looking to go back to work again. Just as had happened with Plymouth Place, a job came to her. The administrator of The British Home, whom Adduci had known for many years, called and asked if Adduci was interested in a quality assurance position. Adduci accepted the position, even though her personal goal was to become licensed as an administrator. She wouldn't have to wait long for her opportunity.

Unbeknownst to Adduci, The British Home's administrator had already spoken to the facility's board about retiring. "When I figured out she was leaving, she asked if I would consider becoming the administrator," Adduci said. "I took and passed the administrator exam and have been in that role for six and a half years now."

Adduci describes her time at The British Home as "an excellent adventure." "You can impact so much in this role," she said. "I've been given the opportunity to study our operation and begin to make recommendations and changes. It's been a challenge, but very exciting."

Adduci has been tasked with seeing which areas of The British Home need the most change and could make the greatest impact on future planning. "I was given permission by the board and management team to really study the larger departments here and start pulling them apart to see if we were headed in the right direction and what changes we could make to be more competitive while still providing the best quality possible," she said. The British Home has enacted a number of changes, including moving to electronic health records, electronic medication dispensing programs and creating a fine dining experience that includes open seating, dining time flexibility, a greater selection of foods and more of a hospitality industry focus during meals. "Our delivery of care and services is completely different than two years ago," Adduci said. While these changes came with initial monetary investments, Adduci noted that cost savings began to show up a few months down the road.

Despite the advances the facility has made, Adduci acknowledges that The British Home still has challenges to overcome. "We're still working on a culture change," she said. "There are a lot of new initiatives about quality of life and creating a homelike environment."

A community commitment

The British Home prides itself on its relationship with the community. "We do a lot that extends beyond these walls," Adduci noted. "We want to try and impact people's lives in their own homes as well as here." The facility offers Lifelong Learning courses that are open to the public and include topics ranging from "French Country Cooking" to "Beginning Piano for Adults with a Sense of Humor."

These courses help older members of the community feel less isolated, Adduci noted. "There are all kinds of reasons you change how integrated you are in life," she said. "These courses give people an opportunity to have a focus, an opportunity to learn. Our needs don't really change as we age. We need affection, we need to feel included and we need to learn."

The British Home also offers a Geriatric Functional Assessment program, which performs screenings and provides families of elderly individuals with a plan of recommendations for that person's lifestyle. The program is open to the community.

The British Home is actively preparing for the future. Adduci anticipates that residents will have higher acuity and also be more interested in having care services come to their homes versus moving into a facility full-time. "We're thinking outside of our walls and continuing to train, teach and hire for clinical acuity," she said.

Whether it's her family members, her friends or the residents at The British Home, it's clear that many, many people have reaped the rewards of the lesson Adduci's father taught her when she was just a little girl - to be there for those in need.