Over the past three decades not only has Pio witnessed the development and growth of CareMalta but he has, quite literally, helped build it from the ground up alongside his father and the rest of the Vassallo Group team.

“I have very vivid memories as a child when my father first bought the land, which we used to call il-hofra in the middle of Mosta. I used to spend my summer holidays on site helping with the construction of Casa Arkati.”

Fast forward 30 years and CareMalta has become the byword for private care for the elderly in Malta and soon to be Gozo and beyond with plans for expansion overseas.

“It was very challenging and innovative at the time,” reminisces Pio. “Since then, CareMalta has developed a lot and has helped us achieve our Group mission to leave a positive impact on society and the economy by creating jobs within the communities, and enabling locals, especially women, to work in their village.”

In the next 10 years, the Group is planning to take its CareMalta expertise abroad and is seeking to manage care homes “in a mature market” possibly Cyprus or the UK.

“We need to build a strategy for that and we need to make sure we have a solid team that helps us in the growth process,” adds Pio.

But CareMalta’s core values will always remain the same. “The resident is at the heart of everything we do. The biggest satisfaction is when we meet relatives of elderly residents and they tell us how grateful they are for the care their parents are receiving at one of our homes.”

This philosophy of keeping the resident at the heart of the company was the reason why CareMalta had launched the ICare training programme five years ago as part of its endeavour to maintain excellence in the level and quality of service.

One of the biggest challenges was teaching the language of care to foreign employees who first had to learn English or Maltese. “Through ICare they understand the importance of delivering the right message and how to communicate with residents.”

While setting up CareMalta was a challenge in itself, the biggest test to the Group by far was the Covid pandemic. Pio recalled how he and his sister Natalie, then CEO of CareMalta, had visited all the homes just before they were locked down and sat down with the staff who were getting ready to live in at the facilities.

“It felt like preparing to go on Noah’s Ark. That was the biggest challenge of the past 30 years and thankfully I think we managed to sail through that voyage without much damage.”

This was the first year Pio and his siblings did not have their father present at board meetings. And yes, he is missed.

“He had his own style and we’re adopting a similar style but maybe with our own signature. We do consult him outside the boardroom. It’s always nice to ask him for advice because he has a lot of experience. My father was a genius. I hope that together us five [siblings] can perhaps make another genius.”

A veteran sportsman and a team player at heart, Pio believes in unity, teamwork and empowering staff to achieve their maximum potential by focusing on their strengths. He describes himself as a “servant leader”.

“Sometimes the best leaders don’t need to be at the front but at the back making sure the team is working hand in hand. Unity is the key to anything. The success of the Group will depend on the unity of the five siblings and working together towards a common goal.”