It’s been more than one month since a team of CareMalta workers moved into elderly homes to ensure residents were cared for and safe throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, they have stepped up their active ageing programme in order to prevent feelings of anxiety or depression as they are kept away from their loved ones.

The programme sees residents take part in all sorts of activities, from From sing-alongs to chair volleyball and yoga, dance, arts and crafts, bingo, as well as storytelling.

“Moving into the homes at such short notice was a huge logistical challenge. Communal areas became staff dormitories overnight, while staff quickly had to adapt to new and wider roles. But despite these restrictions and limitations we still managed to run our daily active ageing programme, encouraging even more residents to join in and be part of this experience,” said Edel Borg Mizzi, a lead carer who is based at Casa Arkati together with her husband and their daughter.

“Now that we are more settled and things are slowly falling into place, we are involving the residents in everyday chores, such as preparing hobz biz-zejt or cooking traditional dishes, or simply enjoying the sunny spring days in the garden, watering the plants or helping around with a spot of gardening.

“Some of the residents love playing bingo, keeping fit, painting, celebrating their birthdays with their friends or even playing music. A resident at Casa Arkati plays the piano every day to a small audience who thoroughly enjoys listening to his tunes. We also have two residents who sing Maltese folk songs. So, even though this is not an easy time for the residents, these activities help keep most of them jolly and lively,” Borg Mizzi said.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to complications resulting from COVID-19 infection and have been ordered to stay indoors where possible. Visits to care homes have also been halted, to protect residents from the risk of infection.

Daily activities are ongoing in all the homes. A slideshow featuring life in Malta in the past recently filled residents at the Żejtun home with nostalgia for younger, more carefree days when they were growing up. They all listened attentively, some recalling memories with smiles and laughter, others reminiscing “the good old days”.

Whether it’s cooking a special dish, preparing a bread pudding in the kitchen or having afternoon tea and croissants in the garden, CareMalta’s active ageing programme offers residents the opportunity to enjoy the feeling that they are truly part of residential life, especially now that they have more time on their hands since they cannot go out or receive visitors.

“Residents and their relatives are bubbly and loud, but humble, loving and sincere. On the other hand, the staff are equally hard-working and committed,” said Simone Vella, manager at the Żejtun home for the elderly.

“Even though this is our work, we have a higher purpose – to love and serve the elderly in the best way we can. Now, more than ever, we are not only staff members but we can also become family to our residents,” CareMalta CEO Natalie Briffa Farrugia said, urging employees to use their hearts and hands to make a difference in each other’s lives during these particular times.