LeadingAge Magazine · July-August 2019 • Volume 09 • Number 04

Partnering for Global Education and Understanding

July 12, 2019 | by Gene Mitchell

The 2019 Global Ageing Conference will be jointly hosted by the Global Ageing Network and the Ontario Long-Term Care Association. We talked to 2 insiders about the importance of the partnership.

The Global Ageing Network holds its conference every 2 years, and it is well-traveled. Past Global Ageing Conferences have been held, for instance, in Norway, Malta, England, China, Australia, and Switzerland. The 2019 Global Ageing Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 17-19, and is the result of a partnership with the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA).

This is Long Term Care is OLTCA’s largest annual conference focused on research and innovation, and this year, the 2 organizations are putting their conferences together to add an international dimension.

This is Long Term Care 2019: Transforming Aging Together will build on the Global Ageing Network’s Biennial international conference and the OLTCA conference to profile emerging research and innovation and successful quality initiatives in a unique forum dedicated to shared learning and professional networking.

The partnership between the two organizations provides delegates and exhibitors with an elevated opportunity to hear and share about cutting-edge ideas from around the world as well as existing best practice programs across borders.

For more specifics on the conference, see the article, “The 2019 Biennial Global Ageing Network Conference,” in this issue.

Vinita Haroun is director, research and knowledge translation at OLTCA, and is the program lead for the This is Long Term Care conference. Dan Levitt is executive director of Tabor Village, a retirement community in Abbotsford, British Columbia, near Vancouver. He is also an adjunct professor at 2 British Columbia universities, and serves on the board of the Global Ageing Network.

In an article for the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Long Term Care Today, a twice-yearly magazine published by OLTCA, Haroun and Levitt wrote, “There is tremendous value in having aged care representatives from all over the globe in the same venue. When we only focus on our own jurisdictions, we end up perpetuating the status quo and evolving at a slower pace. As the population ages, we all need to be paying closer attention to how other jurisdictions are dealing with today’s challenges, and the new ideas they’re incorporating to provide the best possible care to people who can no longer live independently.”

LeadingAge spoke with Haroun and Levitt to learn more about OLTCA and the thinking behind the September conference.

OLTCA and Canadian Services for Older Adults

LeadingAge: First, can you give us a snapshot of OLTCA?

Vinita Haroun: We are a not-for-profit association representing long-term care providers in Canada, and represent the full mix of long-term care operators. We’re the largest association in Canada and are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year.

OLTCA has approximately 430 home members—owners and operators of long-term care homes. We also have a large commercial member program, and the third category is what we call an affiliate membership. These can be nonprofits, research groups, or academic institutions.

Some of the other provinces have associations as well. There is a national organization called the Canadian Association for Long Term Care (CALTC), and its members are the provinces. Our past CEO was the chair of CALTC for 5 years.

One part of our mission is to be a thought leader for seniors care overall. Knowing we’re the largest in Canada, we host this major event that draws attendees from across Canada.

LeadingAge: You have 2 annual conferences—Together We Care in the spring, and This Is Long-Term Care, which will be the September conference. How are they different?

Vinita Haroun: Together We Care (TWC) is hosted in collaboration with the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) and is one of Canada’s largest gatherings of long-term care and retirement professionals. Attracting over 1,200 delegates and 300+ exhibitors, TWC covers a broader subject area in seniors’ care.

This Is Long-Term Care is in its fifth year, with a more intimate exhibit hall and a specific focus on long-term care pertaining to research and innovation in the sector. This year, the event will expand to cover subject matter in aged care services outside of LTC.

LeadingAge: What attendance do you project for the September conference?

Vinita Haroun: We’re moving to a different venue; we had 700 [attendees] last year and were at capacity. This year, with the international presence, we’re expecting upwards of 1,000. About a third of programming [is] international, and we project about 25% of the delegates will be international.

LeadingAge: Why did OLTCA decide to work with the Global Ageing Network for this conference?

Vinita Haroun: OLTCA has had a strong presence in the past 2 [Global Ageing Network] conferences. In Australia, 4 years ago a colleague presented work on our award-winning Crisis Communication Toolkit. In Montreux, we shared our work on Long Term Care Plus, which emphasizes the important role that long-term care can play in innovative models of aging and design.

LeadingAge: For a U.S. audience, could you talk in general terms about the joint challenges your members face, and how they are reflected in the programming for the conference?

Vinita Haroun: The workforce is top of mind. The Global Ageing Network is organizing a pre-conference on workforce, and the key themes for them are very similar to what we are grappling with in Canada: recruitment and retention, safety culture, and bringing in the next generation. There are obviously nuanced differences. With our geography, we have a lot of access issues in rural areas, for instance.

Other issues are global: For senior housing providers, how do we bring a person-centered approach? How can we keep evolving in systems integration?

I’ll highlight one other thing: The program includes some sub-plenary sessions on Thursday [Sept. 19]. One is called “That’s Debatable.” We have 4 international speakers doing a pitch on the greatest challenges for providers in the next 10 years. There is debate about where we should be focusing, but if you look at the topics, we’re all grappling with all of them on a global scale. We have to have the conversations, collectively, looking forward.

Dan Levitt on the Global Ageing Network

LeadingAge: First, tell us about Tabor Village.

Dan Levitt: It is a continuing care retirement community; we serve 300 people on 2 campuses, with independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. We are about an hour outside of Vancouver. We’ve been here 60 years, and were [founded by] Mennonites.

I’ve been here almost 10 years, and I have been in the field for 30 years. I went to the University of North Texas, and studied with Herb Shore.

LeadingAge: How did you get involved with the Global Ageing Network?

Dan Levitt: I wanted to attend a LeadingAge conference, so I came to the one in Washington, DC, in 2011. I joined the Global Ageing Network to save money on [conference] registration fees. When I got to the conference there was a Global Ageing Network presence and I thought it was interesting! I applied to be a speaker at the conference in Shanghai. There were no board members from Canada at the time, so I was also able to join the board.

LeadingAge: Why is it so important that the Global Ageing Network and OLTCA is partnering for this conference?

Dan Levitt: There are countries outside of North America and Europe and Australia who look to us as leaders and look for resources to support aging across the globe. We try to support people elsewhere. It’s an honor for us to do it. If we have a site in the Middle East or Asia or even in our own country, we can help. It could be aid, or mentoring, or volunteer work. When I’m driving to work there’s someone halfway around the world who is driving home, and they’ve done the same work.

It’s nice having colleagues not in your jurisdiction you can share notes with, and I think our best answers can lie outside our own countries and states.

One issue we’re confronted with is migration, in many cases because of standards of living. The value proposition is working in [rich countries] and getting paid more and sending money back home. The demographic shift is a worldwide challenge and a global response is needed.

LeadingAge: You will present a session, “Disrupt Aging: Five Innovative Lessons Learned from the Global Aging Network,” at the Toronto conference. What is the focus of that?

Dan Levitt: What I’ve learned is that we’re all in this together. What we’re doing at Tabor impacts our community but also [has] a global impact. All these innovations start somewhere else and then we have the opportunity to take innovations and push them further. The household model might have started in Australia, or with the Eden Alternative, or in California.

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.