Global Ageing Network members gathered over breakfast at the 2018 LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Philadelphia this past October to connect and hear the story of Joyce Eid, manager for Moadieh Evangelical Center (MEC) for Assisted Living. Eid shared her global connections experience in establishing the Interfaith Group, a collaboration of 10 long-term care centers of different faiths in Lebanon. During her talk, she highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities that came along with the group’s development.
Lebanon has the fastest growing proportion of an aging population, 65+ years old, in the Arab region, but there are limited government and societal resources available for them. In a country with a history of political instability after 15 years of civil war, Lebanon has a culture of strong family values in which multigenerational living is the norm.
“The concept of placing a parent or grandparent in a nursing home is frowned upon in Arab culture.” (El-Kholy, 1988) As a result, older adults are constricted both financially and socially, unable to network with their counterparts, impacting their psychological health as well.
Eid discussed how the familial dynamic is changing. Families are not as large as they were in the past, creating a need for alternative approaches to social and health care issues among older adults.
The development and need for nursing and care service organizations have grown over the past decade. Financial coverage for aging care service is out-of-pocket and supplemented by familial support. Lebanese families are also hiring live-in migrant caregivers to enable older family members to remain at home.
Also, the emerging need for alternatives has led to the success of NGOs to fill in the gaps and to address the needs of a rapidly aging society. Many of the long-term care centers among the private sector are provided by faith-based and nonprofit organizations. However, there are few government requirements for licensure, standardized guidelines, and oversight in nursing and care organization settings.
Eid has worked tirelessly to encourage the participation of senior centers throughout Lebanon to promote socially and economically productive lives for seniors. She developed the Lebanon Interfaith Group to create a collective voice for senior long-term care providers. The group is composed of managers of senior care centers throughout Lebanon, and it works toward creating a place where the members can share and learn together.
The Lebanon Interfaith Group, with representatives of Shia, Sunni, Druze, Maronite, Latin Catholic, Armenian Christian, and Protestant Christian communities, was formed at the first conference in Cyprus in 2015 and the cooperation among them is considered a phenomenon. Eid has continued to make connections with aged care professionals and has furthered the success of the group. She has been innovative in approaching a challenging situation by learning new ways of service and raising the standards of care, while still respecting cultural differences.