A Global Ageing Journey (Guest Post by Joyce Eid)

Joyce Eid of Moadieh Evangelic Center for Assisted Living in Lebanon reflects on her personal journey into aged care and the new learning and relationships gained from being a part of the Global Ageing Network.

After graduating from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I met my husband as we were both working for the American University of Beirut – Medical Center. As a resident in cardiology, he spent a lot of time in the unit where I worked and we immediately fell in love and got married. When our 2 boys became high school students, I had more time on my hands and felt the need to spend more time with them in the afternoons as they were doing their homework. I got my MBA with lots of love and support from my family.

I was asked by the National Evangelical Church in 2012 to run a newly donated and renovated center to be the first assisted living center in Beirut. It was a quite a challenge! I had no training in long term care.

So, I visited Palm Village Retirement Community in California where its President and CEO, David Reimer, was more than welcoming and supportive. I came back to Beirut and we inaugurated Moadieh Evangelical Center (MEC) for Assisted Living.

The challenges we face are essentially the stigma in the Lebanese culture that close-knit families take care of their seniors in the privacy of their own homes. Slowly and steadily our community is becoming more accepting of the fact that some seniors are better cared for in a more  professional setting such as MEC and other newly developing centers providing high standards of care.

“Respecting the differences, learning new ways of service and believing in our ability to raise the standards of care is what I have learned to be possible…”

A landmark in my career was the EAHSA Conference in September 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. There, I got to meet Katie Sloan, executive director of the Global Ageing Network, who was interested in knowing about senior care services in Beirut. My brief discussion with her over breakfast made me more confident of our ability to raise senior care to higher levels of quality in my country.

Most long term care in Lebanon is faith based. With the support and encouragement of David Reimer, I developed a group called the “Lebanese Interfaith Group” which includes ten long term care centers of different faiths. This was a huge success and a first of its kind in Lebanon. We presented our story at the LeadingAge conference in November 2015 in Boston. It was a fabulous learning and sharing experience! It made me more determined to root the collaborations among the Lebanese Interfaith Group ourselves and international networks.

Through a full financial scholarship from the Global Aging Network, I was privileged to attend with two other members from the Lebanese Interfaith Group the 2017 Global Ageing Conference in Montreux, Switzerland this past September. We tried to attend different sessions and share among ourselves our notes and comments. We found this to be an efficient way to absorb as much information as possible. The blend of fun and education made the overall conference experience fabulous.  We had a great time at the Gala dinner and the farewell reception. It was wonderful to reconnect with those who I have met at  the earlier Amsterdam and Boston meetings.

For instance, I met architect Philippe Saad Boston and invited him as a speaker to the Lebanese Interfaith Group conference in Lebanon in April 2017. I was able to meet him again in Montreux. Not only do these conferences bring us closer as colleagues in long term care, they also strengthen the bonds of friendship and mutual welfare.

Respecting the differences, learning new ways of service and believing in our ability to raise the standards of care is what I have learned to be possible through this Global Aging Conference.