A new collaboration between the University of Malta and HILA, the specialised arm of CareMalta Group, will see the two entities consolidate their longstanding relations through a study that will establish and better understand present and future social needs in Gozo.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on July 19 at the Msida Campus of the University between Ms Janet Silvio, Executive Director of HILA Homes Ltd, and Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, Dean of the Faculty for Social Well-being, who both vouched to further explore their areas of common interest while respecting each party’s academic and strategic objectives.

The study was officially commissioned by the CareMalta Group on June 5 at the Citadel in Victoria, during an event launching the group’s takeover of the former KU Club property, which will be developed into a 60-bed care facility, and its services in Gozo.

The initiatives agreed upon include retaining an open dialogue to ensure critical engagement on social wellbeing and quality of life, especially through various research projects, and fostering a collaborative relationship, in order to draw on each other’s mission and strengths.

Members of staff from the Faculty for Social Wellbeing are deeply committed to research projects, at both a national and international level and many of them engage with the community through their contribution to government boards and committees, to NGOs and professional associations.

Prof. Azzopardi, Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing, remarked that engaging with the community through research is in itself a process of inclusive participation, that the Faculty undergoes on an ongoing basis in support of the values of the people affiliated with, or affected by its studies. “The experiences of community members, in this case Gozitan residents, are what fuels our motivation to initiate such studies, which in turn serve to enrich the quality of those same experiences. Our presence in the community then enhances our research efforts, so it is always our pleasure and honour to collaborate with industry partners, because it is also an exercise of self-fulfilment.”

HILA’s mission includes the empowering of persons through choice and the developing of individual abilities towards an inclusive and fulfilling life’.

Ms Janet Silvio said: “This collaboration means a lot to us both as HILA and as a group, as it will serve to give us significant insight into the present and future social needs in Gozo. Our first specialised service on the island of Gozo also marks a diversification path the group is taking and a long-term vision that continues to focus on each person’s individual needs.

Prof. Alfred J. Vella, Rector at the University of Malta, said that the well-being of citizens is a matter that should be on everyone’s agenda. “This study marks an important joining of forces of academia and the residential care industry in Gozo in facilitating the building of interpersonal relationships with peers from our community. This is the raison d’etre of the Faculty for Social Well-being, and we are today seeing it in practice.”