IGS Strategic Plan 2023-2026

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Irish Gerontological Society

Strategic Plan 2023 - 2026     

TABLE of CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Message from the President
  4. Our Main Strategy
  5. National Executive Committee 2023
  6. National Context
  7. About the Irish Gerontological Society
  8. Vision, Mission, Values
  9. Activities of the IGS
  10. Strengths and Challenges
  11. Strategic Objectives
  12. Strategic Initiatives and Activities

Introduction

This strategy was developed by the National Executive Committee of the Irish Gerontological Society (“IGS” or “the Society”) in April/May 2023. The IGS National Executive is comprised of the officers (President, Vice President, Honorary Secretaries, Honorary Treasurer) and elected committee members. Membership of the National Executive is multidisciplinary and is open to all IGS members.

Executive Summary

This Strategic Plan for 2023 - 2026 sets out the tasks for the IGS for the next three years.   The name and professional role of each member of the National Executive is provided.  The Plan is situated within the national context of the ageing population referenced with a December 2022 publication of the Department of Health entitled: Health in Ireland: Key Trends.  This report states: by 2041 there will be an estimated 1.3 million to 1.4 million people aged over 65 years, representing 20-25 per cent of the total Irish population and the increase in the over 80s population will be significant.  This ageing phenomenon is unprecedented in Irish history. 

Within this national context, and three key overarching strategies, the Strategic Plan states the vision, mission and values of the IGS, with awareness of its history, breadth of membership, and serious mission. The key activities that will implement the mission are:

  1. The Annual Scientific Meeting
  2. The national database of abstracts on ageing
  3. Public lectures
  4. Podcasts
  5. Website and social media 

Strengths and challenges are addressed to give the parameters of the seven identified strategic objectives:

  1. To promote and disseminate evidence-based information and ideas to increase and improve knowledge, skills and awareness of the wellbeing, health and empowerment of older people
  2. To become a trusted and reliable source of information and commentary for evidence-based discussion of gerontological research, practice, education, and policy
  3. To increase the profile, influence and visibility of the IGS
  4. To attract, retain, support and engage an equitable balance of multidisciplinary members of the IGS
  5. To stimulate, facilitate, and encourage cooperation and collaboration among our stakeholders*
  6. To align and integrate our capabilities, communications, and infrastructure: to uphold our vision, mission and values; to meet the expectations of our stakeholders*; and to implement the initiatives of our Strategic Plan
  7. To achieve and maintain financial sustainability.

*our stakeholders are defined as persons, groups or organisations that have interest in, or concern about, individual and population ageing.

To implement its mission and achieve the strategic objectives, the National Executive Committee has identified and agreed to a programme of initiatives and activities under the seven objectives as areas of particular focus over the next three years.   In conclusion, the National Executive commits to this three -year programme in order to implement its mission:

To improve the experience of ageing through advocating and promoting excellence in issues and practices that are important to the well-being, health, support and empowerment of older adults.

Message from the President of the IGS

Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends

On behalf of the National Executive of the Irish Gerontological Society, it is with great pleasure that I present our new Strategic Plan 2023 - 2026.

Within the context of a rapidly ageing population, unprecedented in our history, we have set out the values, vision and mission of the IGS. This strategic plan will drive our work over the coming three years.

I should like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of our two voluntary Committees: the National Executive and the annual Scientific Committee who give many voluntary hours in service to our members.  Our multi-disciplinary Committees are drawn from across Ireland and contribute hugely to the fabric of the IGS. Particular thanks to the voluntary officers of the Society – the Vice-President, Emer Ahern, Secretaries Adam Dyer and Catriona Reddin and ever-present Treasurer Jonathan O’Keeffe – as they give many extra hours to the on-going work of the Executive. 

The contribution of our current and former Executives have brought us to a strong position. We now have 500 members in the Society.  We have grown in multi-disciplinary membership, sponsorship, event participation, abstract submissions, and engagement, including our new and improved website, over the past decade.   Our Annual Scientific Meeting is a vibrant opportunity for exchange of professional research and experience, through our keynote speakers, platform and poster presentations.  With almost 2000 research papers catalogued, our online National Database of Abstracts in Gerontology - which we launched in 2014 - is a very significant research resource. 

I am delighted to acknowledge and thank our many sponsors for their invaluable support.  Our thanks also to our public audience who participate in public lectures and podcasts and to the speakers and panellists who share their time and expertise. 

To all members of the Society, I send my congratulations and best wishes for the work of our shared mission, knowing that our commitment to the improved quality of life for our older adults impacts all our lives.

In September this year, my term as President of the Irish Gerontological Society comes to an end. It has been tremendously rewarding over the past three years, as President, to work with Executive Committee teams that have leveraged their united disciplines to transform the IGS into the robust Society that it is today. I have no doubt that the incoming President, Professor Emer Ahern, and future Executive Committee will carry forward the IGS commitment to the pursuit of research and education excellence in the wellbeing, health and empowerment of our older people.

Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny

President

Irish Gerontological Society

June 2023

Our Main Strategy

Our key strategy in Gerontology is:

  • To support research, education, and training in gerontology
  • To raise public awareness of important issues in gerontology
  • To expand collaborations and partnerships with other stakeholders in ageing policy, practices, research and education.

National Executive Committee 2023

Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny, President

Regius Professor of Physic, Professor of Medical Gerontology Trinity College Dublin and Director of Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, St James’s Hospital Dublin

Professor Emer Ahern, Vice President

Consultant Trauma and Orthogeriatrician in Cork University Hospital

Dr Catriona Reddin, Honorary Secretary

Specialist Registrar in Geriatric and General Internal Medicine in University Hospital Galway

Dr Adam Dyer, Honorary Secretary

Specialist Registrar in Geriatric and General Internal Medicine, Trinity College Dublin and Tallaght University Hospital

Mr Jonathon O’Keeffe, Honorary Treasurer

Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Gerontology, St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin

Dr Amanda Lavan

Consultant geriatrician at St James’s Hospital, Dublin and a senior lecturer in gerontology in Trinity College Dublin

Ms Deirdre Lang

Director of Nursing Older Persons Services, Health Service Executive 

Ms Íde O’Shaughnessy

Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist on an older persons team in the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick

Ms Bibiana Savin

Assistant Executive Director – Case Management and Support with Sage Advocacy, an organization that provides advocacy and support services to older people, vulnerable adults, and healthcare patients  

Ms Edel McDaid

Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in older persons rehabilitation in the Royal Hospital Donnybrook

Dr Ruairi Waters

Consultant in Geriatric Medicine at Galway University Hospital

Dr Ciara Gibbons

Specialist Registrar in Geriatric and General Internal Medicine in Sligo University Hospital

Dr Karen Dennehy

Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine in Cork University Hospital

Ms Florence Horsman Hogan

Quality and Patient Safety Manager in Leopardstown Park Hospital Dublin. 

Supported by Dr Denise Burns, Administrator and Events Planner

National Context

On 1st December 2022, the Department of Health published Health in Ireland: Key Trends. The report states:

The population in 2022 has grown by an estimated 7.6% since the 2016 Census. Since 2013, the population has increased by 10.5% to a figure of 5.1 million. The population is growing across all regions and age groups, with the most significant growth seen in the older age groups. The population aged 65 and over has increased by 35% since 2013, which is considerably higher than the EU average increase of 17.3%.  The latest population projections released by the Central Statistics Office indicate that this population growth is set to continue for at least the next two decades.

In general, people in Ireland are living longer than previous generations. A century ago, average life expectancy was in the region of fifty years. Today, average life expectancy for men in Ireland is 76.8 years and for women 81.6 years, and life expectancy at the age of 65 is rising faster here than anywhere else in the European Union.

Ireland will continue to experience an unprecedented ageing of the population in the first half of the twenty-first century and by 2041 there will be an estimated 1.3 million to 1.4 million people aged over 65 years, representing 20-25 per cent of the total Irish population. The greatest increases are expected in the over-80 years’ age group, where numbers are expected to increase four-fold from 110,000 in 2006 to about 440,000 in 2041. Ageing on this scale is an unprecedented phenomenon in Irish history (Page 7). 

These demographic developments are both a triumph and a challenge, a challenge for all ages of our population, requiring intergenerational solidarity.   At all levels of society, we are challenged about the way we approach and provide for ageing.    The arrangements we need to put in place to ensure that Ireland becomes an age friendly society are arrangements for everyone.

In light of these challenges, the National Positive Ageing Strategy, published in 2013, states:

Planning should focus on keeping people as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Planning should also focus on the positive opportunities provided by large numbers of healthy and active older people and of the significant contributions that they continue to make in society as consumers, workers, mentors, caregivers, child-minders and as volunteers (Page 6).

About the Irish Gerontological Society

Given our national context, the Irish Gerontological Society has a serious mission.  The IGS is one of the oldest societies in the world devoted to the study of ageing.   We are strong now because of the vision and dedication of those who founded and sustained the IGS since its beginning in 1951, through some challenging years.   The past and recent leadership established the IGS as a catalyst in research and education in gerontology, resulting in improvement in the quality of life and care of our older adults.

The IGS core purposes are:

  • Advancing education and research in the science and study of ageing.
  • Promoting optimum ageing by the emphasis and reinforcement of gerontology in all its areas.

The IGS is an all-island, interdisciplinary, scientific and educational society. Membership is extended to and collaboration fostered among:

  • Health and social-care professionals, practitioners, and students
  • Academics and scientists involved in the study of ageing
  • Policy experts and those concerned with advocacy for older people
  • Professionals and researchers from other fields who have an interest in gerontology and/or share the values of the IGS

In 2023 membership numbers approximately 500, with significant participation in our events, and strong international connections.  Our membership reflects the complexity and diversity of those interested in promoting the interests of older people and in how knowledge about ageing and later life can be enhanced and improved.  We all aim to build on the growth and success of our Society over the last 72 years.

The organisational structure of the IGS is comprised of two voluntary standing committees. The National Executive Committee oversees the governance and operation of the Society. The Scientific Committee oversees the Annual and Scientific Meeting.  Both committees meet in person or online on several occasions annually, usually monthly. 

Vision, Mission, and Values

Our Vision

A compassionate world for our ageing population where they benefit from the optimum that our united disciplines and professions can offer.

Our Mission

To improve the experience of ageing through advocating and promoting excellence in issues and practices that are important to the well-being, health, support and empowerment of older adults.

Core Values

The Irish Gerontological Society commits to the following values to guide our behaviours, judgements, decisions and activities as we strive to achieve our mission: 7

Optimum Ageing

As professionals concerned with the wellbeing and care of older people, we seek to discover, understand, and advocate best evidenced-based practice to meet the needs and address the challenges of ageing adults.

Advanced Knowledge

We encourage, support and facilitate the exploration and dissemination of new ideas in research and education concerned with the physical, social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing.

Inclusiveness

We operate in a spirit of inclusiveness by offering balanced and equitable opportunities and platforms for our many diverse stakeholders to participate and be heard across The Society’s span of activities.

Integrity

We maintain a collegial environment, based on a strong tradition of inter-disciplinary cooperation and teamwork, where transparency in our relationships and dealings with each other and with our various constituencies are assured.

Excellence

By upholding the highest level of social, scientific and academic standards we will demonstrate ethical leadership.

Activities of the IGS

In order to implement its vision, mission, and values, the IGS has a range of activities both at professional and public levels.

  1. The Annual Scientific Meeting

During this two-day event, we showcase the latest advancements in Gerontological research and practice.  The 69th ASM held in 2022 was the first in-person ASM since 2019, having transitioned to an online forum during the Covid-19 pandemic. Attendance at the ASM has continued to increase over the years, reaching 500 in 2022, including professionals from multiple disciplines, and researchers in ageing.  The enthusiastic attendance and evaluation of this event indicate the significance of the ASM for professional exchange in gerontological research and practice. 

The wide range of topics in keynote speakers, platform and poster presentations reflects the breadth of the research interests and outputs of members of the IGS.

The Annual Scientific Meeting is part of our strategy for the period 2023 – 2026.

      2. National Database of Abstracts on Ageing

The IGS research database is hosted and maintained within our website and includes abstracts accepted at our scientific meetings since 2011 It is the only database of its kind in Ireland, addresses diverse aspect of ageing, and is freely available to members and non-members

A record number of abstracts were received for the 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting resulting in 70 platform presentations and 280 posters.  Accepted abstracts were published in Supplement 3 of Age and Ageing, the Journal of the British Geriatric Society, published by Oxford University Press. Content published in Age and Ageing is highly viewed, with over 200,000 article downloads per month. The publication of abstracts in Age and Ageing continues to be a significant part of our research and education strategy.

    3. Public Lectures

In its mission to reach the public with expert research on issues of gerontology, the IGS conducted a series of very popular public lectures in 2022. The format for the public lectures is a presentation followed by questions and answer session during which the public can address the expert panel. The public lecture series in 2022 reached approximately 1,000 viewers per lecture. Public lectures will continue to be a significant part of our outreach to the public as well as part of our education strategy. 

     4. Podcasts

The IGS has also developed a podcast series available to the public via social media (Spotify and Apple Podcast). 

The IGS podcast is a conversational podcast of interviews each with a unique theme/topic. The podcast content is designed to be of interest to those working in the area of gerontology while also delivering information in a way that it is easily digested by the general public.

The podcast series was launched in May 2022 with a monthly episode covering a range of topics and is part of our strategy for educating the public in issues related to gerontology.

Approximately 700 listeners since podcast started in May across all episodes. The podcasts have a huge engagement on Twitter. 

Thus, the evidence is that the public lecture series and the podcasts have a significant reach to people interested in the wide range of topics raised by these public events in gerontology.

     5. Website and Social Media

The IGS maintains a dynamic and interactive website for the public and for our members. The website is an interdisciplinary collaboration which capitalises on the collective expertise of national and international communities concerned with optimal and healthy ageing. In addition to our database of research abstracts, the website hosts a rolling calendar of IGS events, as well as national and world gerontological events. The site maintains a comprehensive list of links, including to gerontological and geriatric associations and to related societies worldwide. The IGS maintains a Twitter account @irishgerontsoc

Strengths and Challenges

Strengths

  • Esteemed provenance, professional credibility and expertise
  • Good governance and efficient operational procedures
  • Committed, engaged and active officers and committee members
  • A strong, growing membership base
  • Broad membership base with good multidisciplinary representation
  • Broad reach and access to other communities and groups with interests in gerontology, which the society maintains good relationships with
  • Growing attendance and participation at Annual Scientific Meeting
  • Organisational memory and processes secured and safeguarded digitally.

Challenges

  • Competition for limited funding resources.
  • Serving a balanced multi-disciplinary society while simultaneously meeting the needs and expectations of individual disciplines (special interest groups).
  • Soliciting engagement and participation of members, most of whom have full-time roles outside of the Society.

Strategic Objectives

The National Executive Committee of the IGS recognises the need to advance and promote the highest standards and levels of achievement in Gerontological research, knowledge and practices in Ireland. In this context, the IGS Strategic Plan 2023 - 2026 identifies seven key objectives that it will prioritise in order to keep pace with the changing needs of our members against the backdrop of a dynamically evolving field of ageing:

  1. To promote and disseminate evidence-based information and ideas to increase and improve knowledge, skills and awareness of the wellbeing, health and empowerment of older people
  2. To become a trusted and reliable source of information and commentary for evidence-based discussion of gerontological research, practice, education, and policy
  3. To increase the profile, influence and visibility of the IGS
  4. To attract, retain, support and engage an equitable balance of multidisciplinary members of the IGS
  5. To stimulate, facilitate, and encourage cooperation and collaboration among our stakeholders*
  6. To align and integrate our capabilities, communications, and infrastructure: to uphold our vision, mission and values; to meet the expectations of our stakeholders*; and to implement the initiatives of our Strategic Plan
  7. To achieve and maintain financial sustainability.

*our stakeholders are defined as persons, groups or organisations that have interest in, or concern about, individual and population ageing.

Strategic Initiatives and Activities

In pursuit of our overall mission and strategic objectives, the National Executive Committee has identified and agreed a programme of initiatives and activities as areas of particular focus over the next three years.  In light of our strategic objectives, and drawing on achievements of the past, the Executive Committee undertakes a plan of activities that will provide a guide to the strategic direction and future development of the IGS.  Some of these undertakings are mutually supportive and accomplishment of one initiative may facilitate the achievement of other goals.

Strategic Objective 1:  To promote and disseminate evidence-based information and ideas to increase and improve knowledge, skills and awareness of the wellbeing, health and empowerment of older people

1.1     Maintain an ongoing awareness of the national, regional and sectoral issues and challenges affecting our members

1.2     Promote the highest standards of research quality through our abstract submission processes, our events programme and our awards scheme 

1.3     Encourage the sharing of learning, expertise, and best practice both within and across our membership disciplines

1.4     Actively promote the IGS Database of Abstracts in Gerontology, both nationally and internationally.

1.5       Support the conduct of Special Interest Groups which provide a forum for knowledge exchange within specified area of interest.

Strategic Objective 2:  To become a trusted and reliable source of information and commentary for evidence-based discussion of gerontological research, practice, education and policy

2.1    Engage recognised international and national leaders in gerontology to share research and practice at our events

2.2     Disseminate reliable research in gerontology to the public and to professionals in gerontology via our events and our communication channels of emails and social media

2.3     Through our events and communication channels, facilitate consensus on key aspects of gerontology

2.4     Advocate practice and policy in gerontology that is well founded on evidence-based

2.5     Utilise the website and IGS social media platform to maintain a dynamic online profile to disseminate and promote evidence-based discussion of gerontological research, practice, education and policy.

Strategic Objective 3:   To increase the profile, influence and visibility of the IGS

  1.  Leverage our broad range of multidisciplinary knowledge and skills to bring key        stakeholders and interests together with the objective of making a meaningful impact on policies and practices for an ageing population.  
    1.  To achieve this, we will plan and use:
      • The Annual Scientific Meeting
      • Database of Abstracts
      • Public Lectures
      • Podcasts
      • Website and Social Media
      • Mainstream Media

3.2     Advertise all events strongly through our website, social media, and other means of communication with the public and with members to ensure widespread knowledge of events

3.3     Issue regular, relevant news and event updates to targeted stakeholders

3.4     Signpost the reader to relevant IGS website landing pages where possible via internal and external communications

3.5     Use the IGS logo at all events and in all communications.

Strategic Objective 4:  To attract, retain, support and engage an equitable balance of multidisciplinary members of the IGS

4.1     Solicit balanced regional representation on standing committees and sub-groups

4.2     Utilise technology for meetings and events to facilitate participation by a wide range of disciplines and regions

4.3     Facilitate local networking to build relationships and share ideas

4.4     Actively campaign to increase membership across disciplines and regions

4.5     Use the website and key events such as the Annual Scientific Meeting to facilitate and promote Special Interest Group and Discipline Group activities

4.6     Engage in a campaign to increase membership across all disciplines.  

Strategic Objective 5:  To stimulate, facilitate, and encourage cooperation and collaboration among our stakeholders

5.1     Provide structure for Special Interest Groups to optimise their collaboration

5.2     Support and showcase the work of the Special Interest Groups via the website and the Annual Scientific Meeting

5.3     Provide collaboration for the expert panels formed for our public lectures

5.4     Collaborate with other groups that have similar values and interest in gerontology. 

Strategic Objective 6:  To align and integrate our capabilities, communications, and infrastructure and to meet the expectations of our stakeholders*

 6.1     To optimise the strengths of our individual and collective National Executive Committee in our events programme and communications   

 6.2      To engage in succession planning in order to sustain the work of the officers of the National Executive Committee

 6.3     To conduct an evaluation for feedback from attendees of the Annual Scientific Meeting which will inform conduct of future events.

Strategic Objective 7:  To achieve and maintain financial sustainability

 7.1     Maintaining financial systems with efficiency and accountability

7.2    Continue to explore sources of funding, such as grants, sponsorships, and donations

7.3     Prepare strong, persuasive requests for sponsorships and submissions for grants

7.4     While maintaining charges that are fair and compassionate, ensure that systems are in place to limit bad debts  

7.5    Ensure that each IGS event covers its own cost, at minimum to breakeven level

7.6     Ensure that the IGS maintains its financial systems and accounts in accordance with governance codes as outlined by the Charities Regulator, and submits reports annually or as requested to do so.

 

We commit ourselves to implementing this Strategic Plan.  Through this commitment we continue build:

Alignment, consensus, and collaboration among our stakeholders.

Through our diligence in maintaining our position as a source of inspiration and motivation to the next generation, we endeavour to ensure that the future physical, social, psychological, and biological needs of ageing people are met.