Brenda Mizzi, a lead nurse at Roseville elderly home in Attard, celebrates her 27th anniversary in nursing this month.

She is also a mother of three children, Amy, 22, Sean, 20, and Casey, 13.

“Life throughout the pandemic hasn’t been easy. COVID-19 has taken an emotional toll on me, as a nurse and mother, as well as on my family. I worry about contracting the virus both at work and outside the elderly home. Every choice I make for my family is influenced by possible exposure at work, and my choices outside of work affect the residents.”

Brenda’s husband Emanuel has retired, and the couple’s youngest daughter attended virtual school for most of this year.

“Interactions with those outside our household have been severely limited, so we couldn’t lead normal lives.”

At the start of COVID-19 in 2020, Brenda spent 10 weeks nursing the residents at Roseville 24/7 during a 10-week live-in, in order to protect them from the virus, so she was away from her loved ones.

“We are a very close-knit family and this was the hardest thing I have had to experience. On the other hand, nursing is part of who I am and it means everything to me. Becoming a nurse has always been my dream. My grandmother was unwell for a long time and I remember assuring her I would take care of her when I grew up. Unfortunately, she passed away before I could do this.”

Like every parent in this world, Brenda’s time at home after work is taken up by the responsibility of caring for her children and spending quality time with them. Casey helps around a great deal with cooking and kitchen chores. Amy, a bookworm, is quite independent and has a job, while Sean is studying to become a veterinary nurse – a passion to care for animals which, in a way, he shares with his mother.

“The time we spend together is very often overshadowed by a constant paranoia of contracting the virus and possibly passing it on to the residents, so even when I’m off duty, the well-being of the residents is always on my mind.”

The family reunites for dinner in the evening. “We all talk about our day and how we spent it. Sometimes we watch a film together, a happy one, to put us in a good mood. I treasure these special moments.”

Brenda has always worked in the elderly care sector. “It is so rewarding to hear what older persons have to say, their wonderful stories, and to share some of the sad moments they have had to endure during this difficult time. The role of a nurse is important, as we are in contact with our patients 24/7.”

Before Brenda knows it, her shift comes to an end. “It’s suddenly time to go home and dedicate myself entirely to my family.” Her youngest daughter awaits her, starts laying the table, after which “the kitchen is suddenly a cacophony of voices, smells and sounds which I cannot keep up with but for which I thank God every single day”.

How is Brenda spending Mother’s Day? “I’m spending it at home with my family. I don’t wish for materialistic things. Family is the most valuable gift of life.”

A nurse’s devotion 

Maria Xuereb, a nursing manager, is a mother of two – Mattea, 11, and Gabriel, 8. Her husband Daryl is a medical doctor.

“I am on the go all the time, trying to juggle my roles of a mother, wife, nurse and student.”

Maria started her career with CareMalta as a facility manager at Bormla Home, while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s in Bioethics at the University of Malta. She is currently studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Patient Safety and Clinical Risk Management.

“Nursing gets under your skin. It is part of who I am and has given me the values that I hold dear – compassion, care, hard work, responsibility, integrity, excellence and connection. We are living through the pandemic together with our residents and we long for all this to be over. As a nurse, my message is to be kind to each other and to ourselves, as we grapple with new ways of living and working in this unparalleled health emergency.”

Maria’s day starts at 4.45am. She wakes up, has a coffee and gets the children ready for school. “By 6.15am, we are out of the house. This has already drained 30 per cent of my energy! I try to finish off my duty by 3.30pm to pick up the children. I arrive home, the children start their homework, while I reply to my e-mails, also juggling cooking dinner, a fight between siblings, plus a work-related phone call here and there if I’m on call.”

Maria’s day involves balancing between nursing and care issues. “As a nurse, the past year has been an extremely rewarding experience, especially while managing Bormla Home during the company’s 24-hour live-in, and also being part of the vaccination campaign. As a nurse, I firmly believe in being devoted to my career and education to provide the best possible care. As a mother, I’m still trying to figure out the right balance between work and personal life in order to be a good parent.”

COVID-19 has been a big test vis-à-vis juggling family, work and studies. “Very often pandemic duties over the last few months have won over everything else, but I’m now trying to make up for ‘lost’ family time, exploring new ways of spending time together despite the imposed restrictions. Another challenge I face is the dynamics of protecting my family at home while being constantly exposed to the virus.”

How is Maria spending Mother’s Day? “I plan to spend it at home with my family… and a good bottle of wine!