“We live in fascinating times! Little did we know what was ahead of us as the clock chimed in the new year 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has become firmly embedded in our national consciousness and here we are with a dramatically changed life.
“Who would have said that I would literally sleep at Bormla Home – on a mattress, in my office. What I gained from this experience over the past three weeks is not something I could have read about or heard of during lectures – sharing the emotions felt during this live-in with colleagues has given me great insight into the micro dynamics of teamwork. Adding to this is the fact that being a nurse by profession, I can truly say that nursing never truly left me!
“Phase 1 of the live-in was an incredible journey which albeit being part of a very small team of employees within the facility, I feel the work was done with great love and passion towards our residents. Residents and relatives were super appreciative of our efforts and this gave all of us the fuel we needed to go on.
“Each and every employee seemed to be driven by the desire of meeting the demands of our residents and focusing on their physical, psychological and spiritual needs. Our aim was to see them happy and smile, despite the fact that they were physically away from their relatives and friends.
“Every morning I asked the Lord for wisdom in every decision, in the midst of whatever challenging situation we faced. There was no theory I could have applied to achieve the goal of putting the well-being of our residents at the centre of my work; rather, this proved to be a practice, made up of ways to foster the good.
“This experience brought a sense of harmony among all employees and even when work became exhausting, the collaboration and camaraderie created the supportive environment needed for employees to know that we are all in it together.
“I hope that from this experience we may all carry with us the acts of kindness we have witnessed during this time. May we remember that our actions really do matter. And finally when this is all said and done, may we remember to cherish the beauty of normality.
“Have faith, stay hopeful, stay safe.”
“It all started in a sort of rush and urgency. I felt the need to remain calm but was anxious to ensure that all the required planning would be done in time. But time we had not.
“I felt relieved that we had a good response from our employees, who voluntarily offered to do this and be part of this experience. I needed to be positive in my approach when explaining the importance of being altruistic even though we were facing the unknown.
“I feel that the I Care values were really put to the test in order to help us all come together and go for this, leaving our families behind and putting these values into practice. As time went by, these values helped us all.
“On the first day of the live-in one could feel a sense of anxiety and fear, having to share the basic needs (sleeping, washing dressing, etc.) with so many colleagues, but to a certain extent unknown people, in restricted areas and facilities.
“Day two, three and four passed and we started to get used to the routine and long, different hours. Some even took on different tasks and here is where one started to note the real change. All became one, all helped support each other, even going out of their way to share everything – whether it was helping around in the kitchen by clearing tables, folding napkins, setting tables or helping the laundry department fold and distribute clothes.
“Some employees, as well as heads of department, have been working long hours, seven days a week, going to rest and seeing them back after a few hours. The majority of residents have been very understanding, with a few also offering to help, especially on seeing the amounts of supplies coming in.
“Last but not least, I am grateful to the army we have outside, our support team and the Vassallo family. They are the backbone of this live-in. My CEO is my inspiration – a woman with a big heart who constantly thinks of everyone, not only residents and employees, but also our families and loved ones.
“I cannot explain or find the right words to express myself. The reason is just this: what words can I use to thank Natalie, the Vassallo family, my fellow colleagues out there, these colleagues at Casa San Paolo and in other facilities, the relatives of our residents and, yes, also the residents?
“I am sorry I cannot find the right words but thank you. I have faith and believe that God our Lord is with us. Believing in him will see us all through this.”
“I joined Zejtun Home last September – a journey of almost seven months. I am an easygoing person and felt comfortably well the first time I stepped into the facility. Residents and relatives are humble, bubbly and loud, but loving and sincere. You know where you stand with them. The staff are hard-working and committed.
“Living-in is an experience I never dreamt could happen but it is an opportunity to facilitate a deeper level of learning and getting to know the residents and staff better. Emotional moments of family distance and facing the unknown are there but still the commitment to the residents, who are the life and soul of the home, reigns.”
“When the news of the pandemic started to become more of a reality and got closer to home, as a company we decided that we needed to be proactive, especially in view of the vulnerability of our residents.
“While we started out with the standard precautions and extra care, when the first case hit our shores we decided that we were going to have to take some more drastic measures to ensure that safety, one of our core values, was ensured.
“This is how the idea of living in with our residents came about and, as we explored and developed how such a tactic could work from an operational, logistical and practical point of view I realised that I wanted to be a an integral part of it.
“I was chosen to provide my support in the Zejtun home for the elderly, as the current manager was self-isolating, having recently returned from abroad. So I walked in on the first day of the live-in with little idea of what to expect.
“The Zejtun home was the first home I was assigned to as a manager many years ago and so going back filled me with strong nostalgia. The period I spent there was a very positive experience characterised by cooperation between the staff and a strong desire to make this work.
“While there were issues in the first few days, as moving out of your own personal home to a communal space is no easy feat for anyone, these were worked through and proved to be only slight glitches.
“After my 10 days were up and I gave the handover to the facility manager, I must say that driving away filled me with a sense of loss for the time I spent living with my colleagues and taking care of our beloved residents.”