Residing for the past two years at Casa Marija has been a transformative journey for Bernardette Briffa, 71 years, who describes the facility as her new home and her second family. During her interview for this year’s CareNet magazine, Bernardette, who is a grandmother of two boys and a girl, describes the mental health challenges she faced throughout her life.  The first few months following her admission at Casa Marija, Bernardette recounts how she adapted to living in a facility and while she was still struggling with mental health issues, which in a way restricted her from going out on her own, she gradually made great improvements, to the extent that she can now enjoy the outdoors unsupervised.

Whilst talking to her, one could easily notice that she enjoys reading, so much so that she frequently makes use of the library at Casa Marija. Her favourite genre is romance and loves reading in both Maltese and English. Bernardette also mentions how she loves participating in the many activities the facility organises that promote active ageing. “We are always organising different events. I say we, as I enjoy involving myself and I love helping Anna Curmi, AAF at Casa Maria, who manages to keep us residents happy through her work”.

Bernardette has a special bond with Anna, who is the Active Ageing Coordinator at Casa Marija. “She understands me so well and whenever she is working, I try to spend time with her by helping whenever needed. In that way, apart from keeping my mind busy doing something I know that I am helping Anna and when she is not there, I then tend to immerse myself in reading”.

Given that Bernardette experienced mental health issues she tends to understand when other residents might be going through a tough time and that is when she reaches out to them by lending an ear. “I know that I am part of a community, and to nourish that community one must look out for each other not only between us the residents but also with the staff as it works both ways; That is why I feel happy, at peace and safe”.