An intergenerational 30-year milestone with CareMalta Group

CareMalta Group recently celebrated its 30-year milestone and with such a fantastic achievement, the group's Facility Manager, Antoine Borg speaks with Tiana Formosa and discusses the importance of focusing on the intergenerational aspect of the group  

Mr. Antoine Borg, Facility Manager at Casa Marija
Mr. Antoine Borg, Facility Manager at Casa Marija

As the facility manager, what are the most vital elements you focus on to ensure the highest level of safety and satisfaction for both the employees and residents at CareMalta Group?

I try to make myself as available as possible. First of all, I try to build trust between both residents and employees. I listen to any concerns they may have and act accordingly. We strive to ensure we give the best care and highest level of quality to our residents. The facility is ultimately where the residents will be residing we give the utmost importance to the upkeeping of the facility – obviously including the cleaning and the maintenance needed. Upkeeping is also crucial for our employees so they are able to work in a well-equipped and cared-for workplace. 

Nutrition is also another vital element I focus on. CareMalta Group pays attention and gives importance to the nutritional value to ensure that the food is of good quality and is well-presentable. We strive to make sure that the menu is nutritionally focused. 

Recently, we are emphasising the importance of social inclusion – especially after the COVID-19 period. We’re constantly advocating for the importance and need of social inclusion, being active and active ageing. We are straying from the ‘norms’ that because our residents are residing in a long-term facility, they’re automatically excluded from the community and we are constantly doing everything we can to ensure that they are active in both the community and the facility itself. 

Obviously, we do our best to respect their privacy and dignity. We also try our very best to give them as much autonomy as possible. Especially myself, most of the time you end up with relatives of residents dictating and making decisions on behalf of their relative, with the thought that since they aged they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.  

Obviously, cultural competency nowadays in Malta is common as we don’t just employ Maltese people. We have people from all over the world, some with their base being India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Nepal to name a few. Luckily enough, they integrated very well. Also nowadays, we are receiving admissions with different religions, different beliefs and spiritual needs and we try to cater for them too. In the near future (and which we already are), we will soon also extensively be admitting  LGBTIQ+ residents – obviously, we also need to cater to their needs and treat them equally.

With such a large organisation at CareMalta Group, as the facility manager, how are you able to efficiently communicate to all employees and people involved to ensure smooth operations across the residence?

As a group, we are very structured. If we have a procedure here at Casa Marija, you will find the same procedure in all of the CareMalta Group facilities. Obviously, each facility has its own needs and dynamics but we usually share the same practices. 

The way forward – something that we are currently working on is digitalisation. We are moving towards that route and it is something that we are looking into. However, face-to-face meetings still take place as we want the ‘human element’ to remain. 

An intergenerational event at CareMalta Group
An intergenerational event at CareMalta Group

CareMalta Group obviously obtains a high level of commitment, understanding and respectfulness, whilst also actively promoting and encouraging active ageing. In your position and with your experience, how do you personally aid CareMalta Group in continuously meeting these expectations and standards? 

The perspective of long-term facilities nowadays has shifted. It is no longer the idea that the resident is admitted and that they stay here. Nowadays, people are active, they go out into the communities. At CareMalta Group, to ensure the purpose of active ageing, we recently structured ourselves a little more and organised an active ageing committee within the group. The aim of this committee is to think outside of the box rather than simply shifting from the old ideas and looking into this new perspective of the long-term facilities. We organise several activities – with some being educational activities which are constantly promoting active ageing. 

Unfortunately in Malta, it is quite predominant that ageism is an issue but we do our best to fight it. Basically, this committee is shifting and in the meantime, we are hiring employees and are managing very well to change mentalities. What we used to do 10 years ago, was fine back then. Nowadays, it’s not bad, but we need to refine it and make it valuable for the time we are living in. 

Since taking on the role of facility manager, have there been any changes or new ideas that you have implemented within CareMalta Group? And if so, what were they?

I think this active ageing committee which I formed part of, was one of the most rewarding experiences. As a team, as I mentioned, we managed to shift and get people out of their comfort zone and move away from their usual activities. One activity that comes to mind is when we organised an intergenerational activity with older adults and we started from child care centres – so we had residents going to the childcare centres once every two weeks. The idea was to keep the same residents and we managed to build a bond with both the residents and the children. 

We then moved to primary schools and secondary schools and we even went up to university where residents had the opportunity to meet students who were studying for masters and diplomas in Gerontology & Geriatrics and they had an open discussion and the end result was that the residents felt valued as the students were asking them questions and were listened to. The residents were yesterday's teachers, yesterday's housewives and yesterday's policemen. We are where we are thanks to their hard work and dedication. 

Celebrating 30 years of CareMalta Group, what do you think CareMalta Group does right which in turn, helped the company reach this fantastic milestone?

In my opinion, as a group, we always put the resident at the centre of all the ideas and decisions that are made. Yes, it’s a business, but all of the decisions are made with the focal point being the residents. We ensure safety for our residents, we ensure dignity, we ensure integrity and quality and obviously personal development of both residents and employees. The fact that the resident is always kept in the centre of any discussion, is what I think makes the group unique. We say that we are leaders in care and I think we are the most experienced in the field. 

Again, the dedication we have for our residents and the fact that they are always our main point of attention and focus, is what helped CareMalta Group reach this beautiful milestone.