Empowerment and national inspiration of the elderly
Dr Caruana is Parliamentary Secretary for the Rights of People with Disability and Active Ageing
Despite all the unfair twists and hurdles, Leo deserved the appointment from the outset for his integrity and experience in the field. Looking at the way the whole process unfolded, George Washington’s words came to mind: “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pain to bring it to light.” The undue pressures made throughout, have in fact reconfirmed the damage that can be caused in the European fora when some people resort to exporting their very limited vision of how to run the country. Leo’s abilities and honesty shone bright despite locally-prompted negativity, with the Council of Ministers approving without hesitation the Labour Government’s nominee. Negative tactics create pain and delay, but eventually truth prevails! There are lessons to be learnt from all such instances as we move on to further challenges.
All set for the standards authority
Quality standards are a must for the government when providing the necessary services to different sectors of our population. We strongly believe that such regulations are never meant to be merely documented on paper, but implemented in whatever sector they are applicable. Last Wednesday, my Parliamentary Secretariat concluded an eight-week long consultation period with all stakeholders in the elderly sector in order to have a reliable and clear understanding of the implementation of national standards for homes for the elderly.
According to the National Strategy for Active Ageing, the mission of care homes should go beyond the traditional concept of ‘care of the elderly’, but rather to enable residents to realize their full wellbeing potential. The strategy itself is premised on three themes – active participation in the labour market, social participation, and independent living. Parallel to this we have established standards to favour a lifelong vision of active ageing as a human right of all older persons irrespective of their levels of health status.
Promoting active citizenship
The standards for all care homes are based on the principles of person-centred care, dignity, privacy, physical and mental wellbeing, self-fulfilment, autonomy, empowerment, equality, the right to complain and legal recourse. Together with all those involved in the running of all homes – state and private ones, we are now all geared to have a specific autonomous Authority in place after the relative Bill is tabled in Parliament
The participation of all stakeholders during the consultation period was very encouraging, contributing to further practical measures for the implementation of the standards agreed to. The new Authority will regulate practices and service levels, including human resources, in all homes. They are now expected to promote the human rights and interests of older people, while also providing opportunities for them, ensuring the elimination of age discrimination and encourage best practices in social and health care services.
Best workers and team spirit
For the second year running, my Parliamentary Secretariat and the management of St Vincent de Paule have organised two special awards for the worker and the best team of the year. This contest is not only aimed at rewarding the best, but to also draw attention to the skills and dedication of all the workforce, highlighting the team spirit that staff in the same ward can reach when carrying out their duties.
It is most admirable how some workers can walk the extra mile to ensure that services are provided with a professional and humane approach. The enthusiasm shown by all workers at the award-giving event was a clear expression of the esprit de corps that reigns throughout the long days and nights of dedicated service.
I wish to congratulate this
year’s winner, Ronald Zaffarese who is in charge of the Active Ageing Unit, and staff of Ward St Joseph 4 who were chosen as the best team at St Vincent’s Long Term Care Facility. Over and above the selection of these collaborators for the award, the event itself is also meant to express our appreciation to all workers who convey the best services to older persons.
Active ageing annual award
Living longer must be accompanied by continuing opportunities for participation in everyday decisions, accessible health, security and social presence. This would ensure that the ageing process becomes a positive experience. In line with our strategic policy for Active Ageing we also organise the annual Active Ageing Award, requesting nominations from NGOs and individuals for older persons who distinguish themselves within the community for their zeal and dedication.
This year’s event turned out to be yet another showcase of the resilience and selflessness of so many older people, who rise above their age and health constraints in order to support and enhance social, cultural, sportive and philanthropic activities within their local or national communities. Besides the invaluable and tireless service they provide to so many, they stand out as an example to many others. Malta and Gozo are blessed to have such an admirable cohort of older persons who, on a voluntary basis, invigorate the life of so many organisations.
The elderly our – inspiration
Active Ageing is not only a challenge for the government to provide the necessary space and tools for empowerment, but also an opportunity to help the elderly better their quality of life and encourage full participation within society. Although the award was presented to only one person, the whole process and event are a clear recognition of the good work done by thousands of elderly people.
I take the opportunity to heartily thank the thousands of elderly people who, rain or shine, continue to contribute to society after they retire, with many engaged in voluntary work. You are all a great inspiration to our nation!