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Around the World in 40 Minutes

According to Beret Aspaas, of ACK Architects in Norway, one of over 600 registered delegates, the Agile Ageing Alliances 6th annual Congress, in association with ISO, AARP and Microsoft was "Lockdown 2020's most inspirational day!"

With support from Martin Hyde, Associate Professor of Gerontology at the Centre for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University, here follows a summary of 40 plus presentations, together with links to video and slides, where provided.

To set the scene, Nathan Taylor (ISO Technical programme manager) and Nele Zgavc (International secretary for ISO Ageing Societies), gave an engaging insight into the structure, purpose and function of the International Standards Organisation.

It was fascinating to learn how this esteemed organisation has developed since its inception in 1947. Nathan identified Ageing Societies as a priority area for ISO, and one made more prominent by the current COVID-19 crisis. We learned that this is a cross cutting theme connected to a number of existing ISO standards. There is also related work in progress involving close to 20 ISO Technical Committees standardising projects in workplace, medical, social and community settings, while also facilitating the development of market-relevant standards. 

As Nathan noted, the impact of an ISO standard for multigenerational neighbourhoods, links to wider sustainable development goals. Recognising that this is only the start of the journey, success will be based on engaging with experts across a wide range of disciplines and sectors, as well as ensuring that the views and experiences of older adults are at the heart of the development process.

Nick Howe, (AAA Founding Partner and Enterprise Manager at NatWest) provided an overview of the continued success of the AAA, rethinking how we ‘do ageing’, and AAA’s growing international impact, as evidenced by the diversity of speakers and delegates at today’s event. 

The Spectre of Ageism

The first session provided a whistle stop tour around the world and an unparalleled insight into complementary initiatives that are already taking place in various countries. From Norway, Tore Borthen, (CEO/Founder, CondoVita) told us about the exciting multigenerational ‘living lab’ for around 500 people he is building to test new products and services that support healthy and active ageing. Tore explained how co-production with a wide range of stakeholders is essential to the well-being of his pioneering scheme. 

From Australia David Stevens, (Managing Director, Standards Wise International) described developments that have been taking place over a number of decades to create more intergenerational living spaces. However, David also noted the spectre of ageism that is threatening both current and future generations of older adults in Australia, and called on the AAA community to join forces to address the challenge with one voice.

A Care Home Without Walls

Live from China, Professor Liu, (Director, Service Engineering and Smart Health for Seniors Lab Beijing Academy for Science and Technology) outlined work ongoing, combining a digitally enabled living lab with integrated senior care services, to create a ‘care home without walls’, designed to enable older adults to live independently in multigenerational neighbourhoods. Having visited Professor Liu's facilities in 2019, I can attest to the benefits his innovative work is creating in Beijing communities. As older children are able to drop mom or dad off at professional care centres during the day, and pick them up again, on the way home from work, this is having a significant impact on well-being and the local economy. (See A Crèche for Chinese Babyboomers).

From Geneva, Alexander Grutman, (Co-Founder & CEO of Inno-Fuel) provided a more entrepreneurial perspective. With expertise in finance and construction, Alexander's company is developing a new breed of technologically enabled care facilities across Europe, modeled on the hospitality sector. As with any new concept, he is finding it tough to generate the capital necessary to scale the business and highlighted the value of an ISO standards framework in providing trust for multiple groups of stakeholders, including investors, residents businesses and government alike.

Alberto Sanna, (Director, Life & Health Scientific Institute San Raffaele) in Milan, took us on an exhilarating journey through his living lab at the San Rafael hospital. This is a scaled down neighbourhood which contains all the amenities that one would find in a normal city, allowing researchers to test the effects of changing environmental factors on health and well-being. Alberto also talked about the urban park of the future and creating spaces to allow everyone to come together around shared activities. According to Alberto these spaces do not just need to be functional, they need to be autonomous, provide leisure opportunities and be flexible and resilient to future change.

Andrew Larpent, (Chairman, CommonAge, The Commonwealth Association for the Ageing) drew our attention to the millions of older adults in the Global South where levels of formal support are low and who face marginalisation and ageism. According to Andrew: "There should be no doubt in our minds that civil society across the world is being profoundly affected by the CV pandemic and that fundamental changes are likely in its aftermath in the way we live our lives, the ways in which older and vulnerable people are supported and the places in which they, and we, live are shaped in the future." 

Andrew says "This important collaboration between the AAA and ISO will be relevant for all involved in housing, care and health integration and the systems reform agenda. CommonAge is keen to encourage a wide international discussion and will circulate this opportunity via our networks across the Commonwealth to promote interest and engagement". 

Finally, Jeremy Porteus, (Founder and Managing Director of Housing LIN UK) outlined examples of good practice around the UK, in building housing developments that can help inform the development of the proposed standard. (Follow the link below to view Jeremy's presentation.)

Our opening session provoked a lot of interaction on the event chat channel and social media. Despite the different backgrounds and nationalities, it was encouraging to note that all speakers underscored the value of an ISO standard to support the development of multigenerational neighbourhoods. 

You can watch video coverage of the opening sessions by visiting www.agileageing.org. Next week, we will publish editorial summaries and videos of the other brilliant presentations and discussions.Next week, we will publish editorial summaries and videos of the other brilliant presentations and discussions.