Malta Independent

Care for elderly people


The government has announced that two separate investigat­ions are underway on alleged use of force by carers at St Vincent de Paul home for the elderly.

Four members of staff at the home have been suspended while the investigat­ions take place. The police have also been involved in the matter.

The government’s decision came on the same day that the Commission­er for the Elderly, Godfrey La Ferla, expressed his “deep concern” over the current impasse with regard to the blocked admissions to residentia­l and nursing homes specifical­ly dedicated to our senior citizens.

The case dates back to last summer, when an elderly resident had been found missing from the home, and had eventually been found dead. An inquiry had been held but the outcome had not pleased the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses. The inquiry had found that the disappeara­nce was the result of shortcomin­gs in the standard care provided by the employees, rather than a failure of the system. The union had taken exception to this, and had ordered its members not to accept new residents at the home.

Three months have since passed, and no solution has been found. Only recently, Nationalis­t MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici had raised the issue in Parliament, saying that an 84-year-old man had died at home after being released – with the interventi­on of the police – from Mater Dei Hospital.

Health Minister, Chris Fearne, has said that elderly people are occupying beds in hospital which would otherwise be taken up by other patients. This means that patients who no longer need medical attention, but cannot yet be sent home because they need care, are staying in hospital, rather than being sent to St Vincent de Paul home. As a consequenc­e of this, there is a shortage of beds at Mater Dei Hospital since these elderly people are occupying them.

The Commission­er for the Elderly was scathing in his criticism of the two sides – the government and the union, largely because the dispute between them has escalated and the impasse could lead to further incidents.

Unless the dispute is resolved immediatel­y, further tragedies are likely, said the commission­er.

“Thus, this Office is soliciting the good sense of all parties to seek a resolution to this dispute”, the commission­er said. “Our society is duty bound to ensure that all the essential services to both the elderly, as well as all patients presented with acute problems, are of a high standard and delivered in a timely fashion. Such services of care, that we are all so proud of, should never be used as a bargaining chip, no matter the circumstan­ces. Humanity expects a lot more.”

We must agree with the commission­er that this issue has dragged on for far too long, and a solution needs to be found quickly. The victims of the prevailing situation are elderly people who need care and attention, but there are also other individual­s who need medical attention, and yet this cannot be provided because beds are unavailabl­e.

The two sides must put aside their difference­s in the best interests of all.

 ?? ?? Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican, yesterday. Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP
Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican, yesterday. Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP

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