The 2019 Global Ageing Network Conference in Toronto, Canada, connected over 800 aged care professionals from all around the world. Many have flown hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to participate, from South Africa, Australia, Uganda, Lebanon, Nigeria, Cameroon, China, and South Korea. Over a busy week of activities, from pre-conference activities such as the Global Ageing Leadership Retreat and Workforce Summit to the post-conference home tour, members had the opportunity to participate connect with other leaders in the ageing field, share insights and experiences that can be applied back at home, and made lasting friendships that span the globe.
The Global Ageing Network Leadership Retreat, facilitated by Wendy Green and Judy Brown, provided 18 aged care professionals the opportunity to enhance their leadership capacities and core competencies through a variety of high-engagement learning methods. Participants had the opportunity to interact with seasoned transformational leaders within the field whose work has fueled advancements and exposed them to diverse perspectives to foster deeper understanding of the issues facing providers and aged care professionals. Participants left the retreat with increased self-awareness and gained a global peer network that will continue to support and guide one another beyond the retreat experience.
The Workforce Summit addressed the demand of front-line workers in long-term care, an issue that resonates around the world. With the assistance of the event sponsor, PointClickCare, we were excited to host a diverse group of presenters who addressed the many challenges providers face and introduced models of training and education, recruitment and retention, and innovative opportunities to fill gaps to meeting the increasing demand and decreasing supply of aged care workers. The one-day event yielded a lively discussion among participants and highlighted the need to raise awareness of the long-term care workforce shortage as a global issue and to develop core competencies to build a pipeline of aged care workers and supervisors.
The two-day conference hosted in partnership with the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) included a robust educational program with topics ranging from innovative care models and dementia care to strategic leadership and wellness. Presenters had the opportunity to profile emerging research and innovation, as well as successful quality initiatives in a unique forum dedicated to shared learning and professional networking.
The conference included inspirational keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and social events, including a lively awards gala. The 2019 Awards for Excellence recipients were showcased during the opening session and provided an informative session in which attendees heard from a range of individuals from disparate corners of the world, recognized by the Global Ageing Network as leaders in innovation and excellence.
Katie Smith Sloan, executive director of the Global Ageing Network and LeadingAge, had the privilege of closing the conference and provided an inspirational speech, acknowledging conference attendees as the visionary and influential leaders in the world of ageing services dedicated to finding innovative ways to meet the challenges aged care professionals face. She noted that “no institution, community, or nation is fully prepared to embrace the massive demographic wave” of an ageing population unless we continue to learn together as a global community. She challenged each attendee “to listen carefully to the voices of older people as we shape the work in which they, and we, want to grow old.”
The week culminated with a home tour to Schlegel-UW Research Institute on Aging. Conference delegates, commercial companies, international attendees, and sector leaders had a unique chance to observe and interact with an innovative institute that “incubates new ideas through applied research, accelerates their development across the 19 Schlegel Villages, and catalyzes change for everyone through practice development, training, and knowledge mobilization.”