Noel Borg, senior nursing manager of the CareMalta Group and non-executive director of Hila Homes, was a guest speaker at a webinar, organised by the Malta Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (MAGG) on January 20.

Entitled ‘COVID-19 and Older Persons in Malta: An Unexpected Journey’, the webinar addressed health and social work professionals, volunteers working with older persons, policy-makers, as well as the general public.

The aim of the webinar was to provide an insight into the lives of older persons in long-term care residences, as well as to create awareness on the plight and challenges faced by older persons living in the community during the pandemic. It also highlighted the support and actions by formal and informal caregivers.

Mr Borg spoke about general operations within residential care settings in Malta, reflecting on the changes and effects the pandemic brought about for all those working in the sector, particularly in long-term care.

“Over the past 10 months, we experienced a number of unprecedented realities in the way we operate. No one ever imagined that the care sector could be so hard hit by such a powerful pandemic and faced with so many difficult challenges,” he said.

Other speakers included Margot Debono, a resident at Zammit Clapp Hospital Residential Home, who gave a first-hand testimony on living in a care home during the COVID-19 pandemic; Fr Paul Chetcuti, SJ, former superior of Loyola House in Naxxar, who spoke about COVID-19 within his community; David Fenech, son of Dr Lawrence Fenech, Malta’s 14th coronavirus victim, who delivered a touching account of his father’s COVID-19 journey; Prof. Neville Calleja, head, Department of Public Health, who talked about ‘COVID-19 in Malta: An epidemiological journey’ and praised nursing homes for their unique and admirable effort during the first six months of the pandemic; Nicole Borg and Dr Maria Pace, senior research officer and professional officer in research and development respectively within the Social Care Standards Authority, who outlined the role of the authority; and Dr Ronald Fiorentino, medical superintendent at St Vincent de Paul, who spoke about operational policies and procedures at SVP, as well as mitigation measures.

The webinar came to an end with a presentation by Dr John Cachia, Commissioner for Mental Health, who highlighted the resilience of older persons during the pandemic, the importance of vaccination to combat COVID-19 and mental health.