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Ikea design has nothing on KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s Centre for Health and Building.  The KTH Centre for Health and Building (CHB) undertakes Research and Design (R&D) projects in cooperation with universities, industrial companies, municipalities and county councils – always taking into consideration universal design.

Every feature in the CHB Full Scale Living Laboratory is adaptable, adjustable, sustainable and accounts for all of life’s transitions. New technologies are tested in the Lab to help people live independent lives before being passed on to field research.

In the Lab, The Centre is testing home and sensor networks, communication and support systems, surveillance and alarm systems, hard- and software for cognitive support in the home, stand­ardized home adaptations, inclusive ergonomic support technology, facility management models for residential housing.

CHB capabilities include construction building technologies, plan­ning and logistics, energy and water resource management, facility management, in-door climate, housing design, safety and work environment, medical ergonomics, patient safety and aged care.

Karin Nordh, R&D Coordinator, shared some photos of the Lab features with us:

The Living Room offers wide spaces, even surfaces and light moving furniture.

Each element in this sustainable bathroom is adjustable, from the toilet seat, to the sink.

The Kitchen features adjustable counter-tops, wheelchair accessible appliances and low-reaching cabinets.


Participants on the Housing Study Tour at Cathedral Square.

The IAHSA and LeadingAge Housing with Services Study Tour was inspiring, informative and interesting.  Each of the five communities we visited brought something new to the table and showed what dedication and commitment can do for senior living.  

The most important lessons we took with us are seldom taught, and less often shared.  The leaders of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, Hebrew Senior Life, Sanborn Place, Cathedral Square and Hearth Inc taught us the following:  

1)          You can make anything happen with volunteers.

  • Many of the services we saw including fitness, educational initiatives and caregiving were conducted not by paid staff, but by willing volunteers.  Students, retired seniors, community centers and relatives can be found all around us.  Why not utilize their talents and time to enrich your community? 

2)          Maintenance Staff are the eyes and ears of your community.

  • All of the sites we visited recognized the value of their maintenance staff, and for good reason. While it may take time for residents to warm up to nurses and staff, maintenance personnel are invited right into the home.  They are there in a time of need when something goes wrong, they have daily contact with the residents which helps them identify risk concerns and can report incidents as they occur. 

3)          If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

  • Finding funding opportunities is an arduous task of piecing together various resources.  A large support can come from private donors, annual pledges, rotary clubs and old fashioned fundraising.  People love to make a difference, help them find a way by talking to them about it.  One donor at Hebrew Senior Life said “I wanted to give back to an organization that gave my mother so much happiness in the later years of her life.”

4)          Take risks.

  • Jacqueline Carson, CEO of Sanborn Place in Reading, Maryland, has a unique and bold approach.  As her residents age, she remains flexible to adapt her community to their evolving needs.  If something doesn’t work, she finds an alternative that does. 

5)          Intergenerational programs are essential, not optional.

  • These programs aren’t just for seniors.  Intergenerational programs strengthen communities by enhancing the lives of youth and children, spread positive thinking about ageing, encourage cultural exchange and can even maximize your financial resources through partnerships.  They can also help you with point #1.

6)          Invite your greater community in.

  • While your senior community may not be able to parade around the town, your local leaders can certainly tour your facilities and get to know their supporters – after all, seniors vote! Nancy Eldridge frequently hosts events in her buildings and identifies concerns for her local leaders to address so that they stay involved and stay committed.  Her program, SASH (Supports and Services at Home) is an exemplary framework for coordination a the community level.
Global Connections

Margie Van Zyl (left) making Global Connections with Debra Rose (2nd from left), Jan Montague (2nd from right) and Rayne Stroebel of GERATEC (right)

Margie van Zyl, Direct of Strategic Partnerships at GERATEC, gave a presentation on Global Connections made to date at the recent IFA conference in Prague.  

The starting point for the Global Connections began in Trondheim, Norway when Margie met with IAHSA’s former Executive Director, Ginger Nuessle, to set up the country support network through IAHSA.  “We started emailing each other sharing ideas and thoughts” recalls Margie.

Following the IAHSA Conference in London in 2009, partnerships began to develop: Staff visited across countries, donated equipment, and supplied one another with training materials.

At the IFA in Prague, Margie made more connections. She is currently working on linking them to organisations in South Africa.  These programs include computer clubs for senior networks in Australia and South Africa, and a project on hope in long-term care in Canada. 

Then there was Jan Montague, President of Whole-Person Wellness Solutions, Inc. and Dr. Debra Rose, professor of Kinesiology Department and director of the Center for Sucessful Aging at California State University, who came to South Africa on holiday early in July.

Margie asked Jan and Debra if they wouldn consider running a workshop for staff in and around Cape Town. They agreed and about 80 nurses, social workers, carers, administrators attended the presentation on 3rd July 2012. Jan presented on Advancing Whole-Person Wellness and Debra on Fall Risk Reduction as a Pathway to Whole-Person Wellness.

They then went to visit Ekuphumleni, an old age home in KwaZulu Natal, and they were able to see first-hand the struggles of South Africa’s ageing.  Jan returned to the U.S. very committed to speaking to people at home to encourage support abroad.

Another successful connection was with Dan Dixon of Guardian Angels of Elk River, whom Margie met in Washington DC.  Volunteers from Elk River had visited Tanzania to work on an elder care project. Dan and Margie have been exchanging ideas and Dan is now raising funds through Rotary and getting matching grants for this project.

“For me the potential is limitless – it just takes passion and commitment!” says Margie. “It is IAHSA that gives the impetus for such global connections.  Thank you IAHSA!”

The Global Connections Program continues to inspire team work.  We look forward to welcoming new connections and international partnerships this year.


“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa

IAHSA is very proud of all of the volunteer program initiatives around the world that our members offer and wanted to share these with you!

Christie Gardens – Toronto, Canada

Christie Gardens Apartment & Care, Inc., a member of IAHSA in Toronto, is a retirement community that has long been serving residents physically, socially and spiritually for over 25 years.

The success of Christie Gardens has been volunteerism, among other unique programs. Its volunteers have remained an integral part of the culture of Christie Gardens. Christie offers flexible daily, weekly or monthly duties in various areas of service, including assisting with events, church services, programs on floor one, calendar delivery and folding, and weekly or monthly duties like mail delivery, decorating and plant maintenance. They look forward to expanding their program in 2012, and welcome any interested applicants.

Reaping Hope – Kathmandu, Nepal

Reaping Hope, IAHSA’s first member in Nepal, is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that creates opportunity for global awareness through its volunteering programs. Its programs work with needy and vulnerable groups and are always looking for people with a health-care background for placement in elderly homes (Briddashram) and disability centers.

Volunteers of all backgrounds and skill levels can work at the Ni Shahaya Sewa Sadran (an old age home) or The Pashupati Old Age Home in Pashupatinath.  Reaping Hope invites volunteers to help seniors with daily chores and activities while seeing the beautiful and spiritual landscape of Nepal.

Tape m'en 5

[credit: Jonas Boni, daoro]

Eden Alternative (a member of IAHSA) and The Lifespan Network’s Wellspring Program announced that The Eden Alternative will take ownership of Wellspring to provide the most comprehensive offering of culture change resources and education services.  Their fused efforts can reach a larger audience for greater impact and fill the growing need for clinical and cultural demands of person-directed care.

Eden Alternative, established in 1992, has trained over 27,000 caregivers and has implemented practice in more than 200 nursing homes across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.  Wellspring (1994) boasts higher immunization, fewer bedfast residents, lower restraint usage, more preventive skin care, fewer psychoactive medications, less resident incontinence, fewer tube feedings and more altered diets than comparable facilities with the same staffing ratios.

The combined offerings of Eden Alternative and Wellspring will bring together for the first time a comprehensive approach to culture change, leveraging their respective strengths.

Christine (Christa) Monkhouse, Regional Coordinator for Eden Alternative Europe, shares the excitement with IAHSA:

“I am very happy about this announcement. In the past, a few culture change movements and initiatives have started and developed their own values, strategies and actions for change. Now that the time has come that our societies acknowledge the need for culture change slowly but definitely, all movements have matured and progressed, grown and not given up.

The ten Eden Principles constitute an integrated, holistic philosophy, based on humanistic values, which are flexible enough to be adapted to all cultures and belief system. These values are now more and more supported by research from neurobiology, positive emotions and many others.

The Eden-Alternative has the potential to become the umbrella philosophy for all culture change movements until the old culture is really gone. So, given this very clear vision, the Eden-Wellspring merger is only the beginning of a profound change on how we provide long term care.”

The Majestic

Credit: Alex E. Proimos

A new paper by Peter Beresford shares the results of a survey executed in November 2011, that was undertaken by Shaping Our Lives (a national network of service users). The project received financial support from Joseph Rowntree Foundation as a part of its commitment to ensure the voices of service users are heard in national debates on social care reform.

While the sample size was small (27 people) the respondents represent a diverse range of independent adult social care service users from different areas in England.

The consultation covered the six issues identified by the government last fall including quality of support, personalisation and choice, prevention and early intervention, service integration, care market challenges and funding of social care. Participants felt that the current system is patchy, faces strong pressures, and is unsuited to deliver quality support despite the commitment of workers. Additionally, they perceived a threat from reduced public spending and inadequate support infrastructure. Many were strongly opposed to privatisation, citing unfavourable treatment of disabled people by insurers as cause for concern. People also wanted to report the damaging effects of reductions in services and support. They felt the debates about welfare reform is having a corrosive effect, stereotyping disabled people as” scroungers’ or ‘a drain on society’. This was creating anxiety and despair, with people feeling scared and insecure.

JRF’s position on the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations differs from the views expressed through the survey. JRF strongly supports the Dilnot proposals as a road map to reform social care funding. JRF also supports the development and piloting of a new equity release product for ‘cash-poor, asset-rich’ older home-owners so they can improve their quality of life. Although JRF has a different view on how funding should be reformed, much of  their wider evidence chimes well with other views expressed. JRF shares the conviction that those who use care and support need to be involved in transforming social care.

Photo courtesy garryknight.

The China International Senior Services Expo will be held in Shanghai  at the World Expo Convention Centre from 17 – 19 May 2012.

The China International Senior Services Expo (CHINA AID 2012) has been successfully held for 6 times since its debut in 2000.  The event is organised by IAHSA member  China Association of Social Welfare along with China Silver Industry Association and the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. The event is endorsed by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and China National Committee on Ageing. The event features hundreds of exhibitors from around the world as well as site visits and policy symposia that allow attenees to develop an understanding of the Chinese senior care industry.

The goal of the China International Senior Services Expo to promote the implementation of the Plan for the Development of Social Senior Service System (2011-2015) and the Year for the Development of Social Senior Service System. Specifically it will cover the areas of eco-friendly residential environment, rehabilitation, healthcare, spiritual/cultural needs, organization management, IT services and products, human resource training, and brand promotion. The event provides a networking platform for investors, providers, and exhibitors that are seeking to break in to the Chinese senior service industry and gives you access to strategic influencers in Chinese senior care.

More information can be found at

Designers and architects often claim to be age friendly, but how can they be sure that their product really works well for people with mobility limitations? The Third Age Suit is an empathy suit developed to simulate the effects of loss of mobility and declining sensory acuity, which can occur with the ageing process and also with certain clinical conditions. It was designed to help answer the question of how designers, who may be fully fit and active, really know if their designs work in practice for people with some loss of mobility or declining sensory perception.

The suit was developed by Howard Jeffrey Ph.D.  for his U.K. based company Mobilistrictor.   The Third Age Suit was shared with participants of the 2012 By Design Conference, an annual event that provides design industry professionals the opportunity to access the latest thinking and research in the field of senior living. “This innovative Third Age Suit enables us to truly understand the confines of limited mobility of the clients we serve,” states Tye Campbell, CEO of SFCS.   “We are excited to be able to share this ingenious device with our colleagues, customers, the media, and co-workers as they strive to build, design, and care for seniors. Our mantra is always looking forward to ‘what’s next’. We believe this Restrictor Suit will assist us as we continue to progress into more functional designs for seniors”.

A Designer Tries Out Third Age Suit

Feros Care is set to boost their presence in the Hastings area with the official opening of a service hub in Port Macquarie.  Here are some fabulous pictures from the inauguration!



The Housing Learning and Improvement Network in the UK has recently released a guide that discusses what  ‘social capital’ in housing with services means for seniors. The guide outlines best practice examples on the use of volunteers, development of neighbor support networks, intergenerational housing relationships and  social enterprise. Based on a wide range of research, practice and responses from UK based housing providers, the authors discuss the challenges and barriers faced by many older people and provide a note of caution about clear assignment of responsibility for personal care and support in housing with services communities. In particular, they ask pertinent questions around:

  • How do volunteers contribute to the running of sheltered and housing with services programmes and the quality of life of those living in them?
  • How do those living in communities, exclusively designed for older people to support each other, contribute and connect to the wider community?
  • What does choice and control mean for people participating in housing with services programmes?
  • How can integrated housing with services programmes foster intergenerational solidarity?

You can see the full chapter here. If you are interested in housing with services, you might consider joining our study tour this September. Also, check out this video on the services that Patching Lodge, in Brighton, U.K. provides to its residents.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at


Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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