[WATCH] Elderly homes will have to sign care contracts with their residents

Justyne Caruana launches 39 national minimum standards that all old people's homes will have to abide by within the next ten years 

Justyne Caruana  meets with elderly residents of Mtarfa home. Photo: Ray Attard
Justyne Caruana meets with elderly residents of Mtarfa home. Photo: Ray Attard
Photos: Ray Attard
Photos: Ray Attard
National minimum standards for elderly care homes launched • Video by Ray Attard

All old people’s homes will have to sign a legally-binding contract with every one of their residents, detailing the home’s responsibilities and fees payable by the resident.

The contract will include details of the room to be occupied by the resident, including washing facilities available, and will clearly specify the maximum number of occupants per room. It will also specify meal, snack and bathing times, and will include full details of the home’s responsibilities to the residents in the event that the home has to close.

An addendum to the contract will specify the level of physical care due to the resident and will be updated accordingly following consultation between the home manager and a physician chosen by the resident.

The contract is one of 39 national minimum standards for old people’s homes that will soon form part of a Bill that will be debated in Parliament.

Launching the document at the Mtarfa Home for the Elderly, parliamentary secretary for the elderly Justyne Caruana said that existing homes will have 10 years to implement the standards, while new homes will be obliged to implement them instantly.

"These unprecedented standards are part of the government's drive to provide better care for the elderly," she said.

Other standards include regularly updated care plans for residents, the meeting of preferences of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, and the provision of wholesome, appealing and varied meals in pleasing surroundings.

Hot and cold drinks must be available at all hours, residents must be given sufficient time to eat their food at their own pace, and staff must be ready to offer assistance in eating where necessary.

All residents shall have a TV connection, easy access to a private telephone line, easy access to the Internet, and will receive their mail unopened.

All homes must provide private accommodation for each resident, which is furnished and equipped to assure comfort and privacy.

In the absence of residents’ own provisions, all rooms must include a clean and comfortable bed, a mirror, overhead and accessible bedside lighting, a nurse-calling buzzer, comfortable seating for two people, drawers and enclosed space for hanging clothes, at least two accessible double electric sockets, a table to sit at, and a bedside table. TV, telephone and Internet sockets shall be made on request of the resident.

Residents will be given regular leisure opportunities in and outside the home, and homes will offer a structured programme of varied activities and events for residents.

All staff members shall receive induction training within six weeks of appointment to their posts, including training on the principles of care and safe working practices.

Prospective residents will also be able to visit and assess the quality, facilities and suitability of homes before deciding whether to move in. The body of a resident who has died in the home shall be handled with dignity, and time will be allowed for family and friends to pay their respects. 

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