Malta Forum: Sowing Seeds for a Global Ageing Research Initiative

by Published On: Oct 09, 2012Updated On: Apr 02, 2015
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The global aging community is one step closer to creating an international applied research network.

The seeds of that network were planted in late September 2012 during a Global Ageing Applied Research Forum sponsored by the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA). The forum took place in the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta. 

If our fledgling research network grows as I expect it will, the impact on providers of services and supports could be enormous. 

Imagine the value of bringing together providers and researchers from countries around the world.

Imagine what would happen if these colleagues worked together to identify, research and implement solutions for the most pressing issues facing our rapidly aging population.

Imagine how an evidence base created by this international network could advance our shared knowledge and our ability to create positive outcomes for the people we serve.

Then you will understand why I’m so excited about this network.

The Global Ageing Research Network: Action Steps

About 25 providers and researchers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States gathered in Malta on Sept. 26, just before the annual meeting of the European Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing. We spent a full day talking about the role that applied and translational research could play in creating better care for the world’s seniors.

Forum participants are no strangers to this type of research. They’ve been conducting it on their own for years. But they came together in Malta out of the strong conviction that, together, we can accomplish so much more than we could ever achieve alone.

In fact, the group has already established a set of collaborative action steps that it would like to tackle, including the following:

  • Make a business case for why providers should be engaged in translational research. 
  • Create a shared learning community through an online clearinghouse of research findings and related tools.
  • Agree on a set of international ethical standards for conducting research with older adults.
  • Disseminate a set of research practice standards through how-to guides outlining how researchers and providers can work together most effectively.

Research Topics of Interest to Providers

The group also wants to create an evidence base for specific topics of interest to providers, including how to: 

  • Create a continuum of home-based services and supports. 
  • Foster lifelong independence through aging friendly communities. 
  • Strengthen the frontline workforce. 
  • Support and find ways to collaborate with family caregivers.
  • Improve care for seniors experiencing cognitive and physical declines.

A Promising Beginning with Many More Steps to Follow

The Global Ageing Research Forum was the first of many steps in an ongoing effort to engage providers and researchers around the world in a robust research network. We’re grateful to the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and the McGregor Foundation for making it possible.

A follow-up forum at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Denver will help us build on the momentum we created in Malta. In addition, the applied research network will be on the agenda at the 2013 IAHSA meeting in Shanghai.

Providers around the world have much to learn from one another. Researchers can help advance that learning process. That’s why I returned from Malta extremely hopeful that, working together, we can identify effective clinical and management interventions for a growing older population, implement those interventions effectively, and sustain that implementation over time.

No other organization in the world is uniting providers and researchers to take on these challenges.

I’m proud to be part of it.


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