A resident in an elderly home has gone on hunger strike, and will be refusing his medication, in protest at the “unfair situation” being experienced in some care homes where residents are placed on indefinite quarantine because of COVID.

“I can’t take this any longer. This is abuse of power. The elderly have no voice. Care homes are making up their own (COVID restriction) rules. These are not in line with the health authority’s guidelines. I feel I have to do something about this to be heard. I will be refusing food and medicines,” said Charles Darmanin, 69, who resides at the Cospicua home.

Darmanin said he takes a range of pills to control his cholesterol levels and other health issues.

“I am a resident at Bormla home and I have been on quarantine since New Year’s Eve.”

He said he was told to quarantine because a resident, whose room was on the same floor as his, tested positive for the virus. He was instructed to go into quarantine despite having no contact with the person.

Now that the quarantine period was up, and Darmanin tested negative, he was still not being allowed to leave the home and told to isolate.

“This is abusive,” he said, adding that while elderly residents were not being allowed out, staff and management of the home were coming and leaving as they pleased.

When asked for a reaction, a spokesperson for the home said: “The area is in quarantine and management are addressing the matter with the Social Care Standards Authority.”

Fear of isolation 

In an interview with Times of Malta in December, ahead of Christmas, Darmanin recalled how hard it was for the elderly to live in isolation when homes were closed off in the early months of the pandemic.

Over the past weeks, others have expressed concern about measures being implemented in care homes. Relatives spoke about their loved ones not being allowed to leave the home – even though this was not listed as a measure by the health authorities.

When the pandemic hit Malta in March 2020, elderly homes shut their doors and residents were not allowed to leave their rooms or receive visitors for long months. Things improved at the beginning of 2021, when, following the vaccine roll-out, residents were allowed out of their rooms, visits started to resume and, as from June, residents were finally allowed out of the care homes.

When the numbers started rising against in December, various restrictive measures came into place for the population. On announcing them, Health Minister Chris Fearne specified that elderly homes would not be affected by the measures, given that most had received the booster dose.

But homes have been adopting their own measures.

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