Downtown Hotel conditions ‘adequate’ for nursing home, investigation finds

Social Care Standards Authority says facilities at Gozo’s Downtown Hotel are adequate to serve the purpose of an old people’s residence

The Downtown Hotel in Gozo
The Downtown Hotel in Gozo

An investigation by the Social Care Standards Authority into the conditions at Gozo's Downtown Hotel has found that the premises are adequate to serve as an old people's home.

The investigation, which had started earlier this week, was triggered following media reports of poor living conditions within the hotel for the elderly persons which had been relocated there.

READ ALSO | Investigation into Downtown Hotel after Gozo elderly relocated there

Over 70 senior citizens were transferred to the hotel from Gozo Hospital's Sant'Anna Ward due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Subsequently, a report in the Times of Malta had quoted families of elderly residents describing the conditions within the hotel as "horrific" and "claustrophobic".

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola had also filed a complaint with the Authority after the story appeared.

The Social Care Standards Authority said, however, that its investigation confirmed that the hotel's facilities were adequate and in accordance with the license it was given.

"The outcomes of the Authority’s investigation were that; the rooms can accommodate two persons, a wheelchair can manoeuvre in the corridor and rooms, the residents’ hoists are being used in the rooms when necessary, medicine is safely stored, and the health care professionals are providing the same level of care they used to give at Ward Sant’Anna," the Authority said in a statement on Sunday.

"The Authority also ensured that the contingency plans and necessary procedures are in place. The Authority confirms that the premises are adequate and in line with the requirements of an emergency license."

Despite this, the Authority recommended that the hotel's service providers offer better video call communication service to allow the elderly to communicate with their relatives, a measure which it said "can also serve to assure that the care required is being received."

It also recomended that the providers ensure the service they offer includes a structured programme of varied activities based on the identified needs of the elderly persons in questions, and that each resident is given adequate storage space for their personal belongings.

The Social Care Standards Authority said it would conduct follow up visits in the coming days to ensure that the issues raised were being addressed. 

In the event that the recommendations put forward are not implemented, the Authority warned it would take the necessary action in the best interest of elderly residents.

Steward Malta, the company that runs the Gozo General Hospital, has said 123 hospital beds could be made available at GGH, with 80 only becoming available following the relocation of elderly residents currently located at Sant'Anna Ward.

Downtown Hotel will be providing 80 bed spaces at the rate of €54.79 per bed space – that is €4,380 a day – together with use of the hotel amenities, MaltaToday reported this week.

The rate will also include any alterations required, the provision of cleaning services, reception services and general maintenance services.

“The price, which is a competitive one in the circumstances, also factors in the loss of goodwill and reputation which the hotel has been building for the past years,” the Gozo Ministry told this newspaper.