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Add your voice to the conversation

International News December 2019

The CommonAge Africa group organised a two day face to face meeting in Durban. It was held 25/26 March 2019. The theme of this meeting was “Connecting and Collaborating” and afforded people the opportunity to share the work being done in their respective countries, looking at specific issues on ageing in each country, and how we can work together and support each other. Next year 2020 the CHOGM meeting is being held in Rwanda and CommonAge Africa will be represented in meetings aligned to this. Great progress in this small enthusiastic group. Femada Shaman from TAFTA has taken over the leadership of this initiative.

News from the Pass it on Network:

The Rights of Older People in Africa: A view from the GAROP African Regional Meeting in Kampala Uganda 16th -17th October 2019 By Emem Omokaro, Co-Chair, Stakeholder Group on Ageing Africa Ken Bluestone, Chair, Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People On 16-17 October 2019, over 50 older activists and representatives of civil society organizations from 15 countries across Africa came together in Kampala Uganda to understand how to engage more effectively to strengthen the rights of older persons. They are all members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) and are working together to bring about a new UN convention on the rights of older persons. The promotion and protection of human rights for older people is important for achieving a society in which people of all ages can participate fully and equally, without discrimination. However, the experiences of older people are still not addressed sufficiently from a human rights perspective. Toward a UN Convention The rights of older people globally have been discussed at the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) since 2011 (https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/). From the outset, the need for a UN convention has dominated its work. Not all Member States are convinced, but their numbers are growing and the last three countries to show their support have all been from Africa. GAROP members are now preparing for the 11th Session of the OEWGA that will take place in New York from 6-9 April 2020 and another regional meeting for Asia Pacific GAROP members is taking place in Kerala, India from 13-14 November 2019. In Africa, a key moment was an OEWGA inter-sessional meeting that took place in Abuja Nigeria from 25-26 November 2019 A Global Peer-Learning Network for Positive Ageing Advocates (www.sgaafrica.org). This provided a crucial moment for representatives of governments, civil society, NHRIs and UN institutions to better understand how the protection of the rights of older people in Africa can be strengthened, including the ratification of the AU Protocol on the rights of older persons. Resources and information about the OEWGA and tools for how to engage with governments are available on the GAROP website (www.rightsofolderpeople.org) and we encourage all civil society organizations who work to strengthen the rights of older people and agree that a convention is necessary to become members of GAROP.


Our board member Ivan Ooosthuizen visited Australia in August to input into processes aligned to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Aged Care. He reflects…..


By Ivan Oosthuizen




View of the bay on route from the North Harbour Walk

A Flight into the Unknown

On a frosty Wednesday afternoon, 31 July 2019 to be precise, I flew from, Cape Town International to OR Thambo, from where I excitedly embarked on my first international trip to the beautiful Australia or the Land Down Under as it is often referred to. Like a typical tourist, I had mesmerising thoughts about kangaroos, the sandy outback and cockatoos in free flight as I anticipated breathing in the fresh Sydney air.

Circular Quay, Sydney

The OPAL Advisory Panel

The purpose of the trip, however tempting, was not for a holiday, but to attend the 3rd OPAL Advisory Panel for meeting for the year, as one of the panel members. I was privileged, as Chief Executive Officer of Livewell, to be invited to serve as an active member on the OPAL Advisory Panel. I did, however, enjoy the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, a local tourist activity, and completed the Coogi to Bondi Beach Walk, another famous and special event, well worth doing.

Sydney Harbour Bridge at Night


The panel members meet a number of times per year, and it’s the brainchild of OPAL CEO Rachel Argaman. The objective of the panel is to create a cross industry platform comprising a number of local and international members hailing from the Senior Living and related industries. During the meetings we try to understand and unpack global industry issues and share ideas, experiences and expertise from within a variety of functional spheres.

OPAL is a well-known and prominent service provider that owns and manages a number of care homes across Australia. Part of the advisory panel’s itinerary involved visits to a number of OPAL care homes in and around Sydney as well as to more remote inland towns such as Orange and Bathurst.

Private Suite, OPAL Bathurst

After a tour of the care homes, the two day visit culminated in the 3rd OAP meeting held on 08 August 2019 at OPAL Bathurst. All the advisory panel members got together for the main panel meeting event and also enjoyed lunch together. One of the panel members, Simon Pedzisi, Director of Health Care Service at Nightingale Hamerson (UK), presented a talk on Dignity of Risk followed by a discussion and questions.

I then went on to present a talk on Livewell’s philosophy and approach to managing client complaints. With some strong winds predicted for Sydney Airport, we headed back to Orange Airport to return to Sydney.

The Sydney Opera House – no visit to Sydney is unique
without at least on picture!

Take Away Lessons

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Australia and met some truly compassionate and kind and people during my short stay. Sydney is a vibrant city on the move and I find the way in which everything from food, public services, tourist activities, transport and shopping all work together seamlessly.

Sample Book Case with Books for Residents to Read


As we pushed through a comprehensive and busy schedule I made a list of some of the key lessons which I took away with me from the OPAL Advisory panel discussions:

  • Benchmarking and sharing ideas are important and should be encouraged.
  • Leaders need to constantly strive to inspire and motivate their teams towards the importance of compassion, are and connection.
  • Industries and sectors sometimes share the same problems but also offer interesting solutions.
  • At our core, irrespective of our cultural background, history or country of origin, we are all human beings in need to of love, protection and compassion.
  • The senior living and aged care is a vibrant, energised and exciting field and offers numerous economical, career, developmental and collaboration opportunities across the world.

Rigorous debate and interrogation of ideas is critical in maintaining a steady course and stimulating new thoughts, theories and ideas.


An Industry in Reform

The Royal Commission has released its final report on the Australian aged care industry earlier this month and it paints a sombre picture of neglect and isolation. In spite of the aged care sector in dire need of reform, and quite frankly the aged care industry is in a constant global reform in my humble opinion, I witnessed compassion, dedication and pursuit of a team, dedicated towards achieving the required care standards and to bring about a new era of patient-centered care.

I have no doubt, in my mind and from personal experience that OPAL care homes stand amongst the finest of facilities available in the world. Their focus on quality, aesthetics and care standards certainly raises the bar from a global perspective.

Reminiscence and Family Room, Bathurst

What can we learn from this as members of the SA Care Forum?

I was truly moved by this visit and saw some of the most beautiful settings and facilities one can honestly ask to be live at. I paid special attention to the interactions between residents, staff and carers and I was stuck by the universal need we share as humans as we grow older.

            I could not help myself, being an active participant in the senior living and aged care sector for a number of years, to also think about what, as the SA Care Forum, we can learn from this visit and what we need to be thinking about in the care sector in all its various disciplines.

            I wish to challenge you, without sounding like I am having a soap-box moment, to ask yourself the following key 5 key questions:

  • What excites me about my specific care discipline?
  • When last did I read a cutting edge book about my care discipline?
  • When last did I do an in depth benchmarking on what I do?
  • Who holds me accountable in my pursuit to be a better care service provider?
  • Am I part of a care community where I can debate, learn or challenge myself?

I returned back to South Africa, feeling as if we have achieved a great number of feats in our senior care industry, whilst it certainly comes with its challenges I think we have a lot to be proud of. I get a sense; in spite of what the news agencies tell us each day, there is something special in our being as a nation, when it comes to caring the sick, the old, the injured and the weak. We should be proud of that and continue to nurture our country with all its numerous challenges.

Simon Pedzisi (Nightingale Hamerson) and Ivan Oosthuizen (Livewell),
Coogi Beach Walk

Closing Comments

Sir Robin Saxby (ARM Holdings) once said “The only way we resolve these issues as an industry is we have to work together. We need collaboration and standards.”

            I think that the senior living and aged care sector is no different, and we need to share our experiences, our ideas and challenges. May we indeed, as a collective care forum and as individual centres of excellence, take the time to deeply reflect on who we are and what it is we wish to bring about.

            May you indeed reconnect with these questions and ideas during the Festive Season and come back refreshed as we tackle our care challenges!