One of the pillars of the Social Care Standards Authority is the ongoing dialogue between entities who provide a social welfare service in Malta and the authority, whose role is to regulate the providers of these services and ensure that the standards in place are achieved by all.

The Social Care Standard Authority officially took over the licensing and monitoring of homes for older persons from the Health Care Standards Directorate within the Department for Health Regulations earlier this year, last January.

Under the authority’s regulations, not only do the service providers need to apply to get a licence for every service they offer, but they are also required to constantly adhere to the standards set – a practice which is ensured through constant inspections by the Authority on site.

There are currently 39 homes for older people that are licensed by the Social Care Standards Authority, with 4,301 beds collectively.

The authority is taking the relationship with service providers a step further in its mission to regulate social care in Malta through dialogue and collaboration.

The United Nations declared October 1 the International Day of Older Persons.

Therefore, we felt it was only right that, on October 3, the Collaborative Platform for Residential Services for Older Persons took off at the Social Care Standards Authority’s offices in Santa Venera in preparation for the Strategic Vision for 2020-2027.

The Social Care Standards Authority cannot close itself in a bubble and work from within its delicate walls

This first meeting gathered representatives of service providers of residences for older persons to discuss the social regulatory standards in this sector. The meeting created a dialogue that will improve the quality of the service for the older persons who make use of them. During the meeting, the service providers had the time to network and share best practice with each other and were presented with the new standards and regulations for the sector.

These meetings will take place quarterly over a year.

They are intended to grant more powers to service providers and the authority to plan for future decisions, support better social policy planning for the benefit of the people making use of the services, share information on good practices to set higher standards and increasing communication flow between all parties involved.

The collaborative meetings with service providers will not be our only contact with external entities throughout this process.

The authority will also be conducting various interviews with stakeholders, mostly with managers of residential homes and professionals working with older persons and in the interest of their welfare, where the main areas of the social regulatory standards will be explored in further detail.

These efforts will allow the authority to paint a clearer picture of the services offered at residential homes for older persons, their operational procedures, and the challenges they face on a daily basis.

The authority is also planning to set up the Service User Advisory Group, a second collaborative platform with service users to build a better picture of the current reality, problems which can occur, and solutions.

No man is an island, an adage which is holds true even for our authority.

In order to make sure that the best social welfare services are offered to the public, the authority cannot close itself in a bubble and work from within its delicate walls.

We strive to interact with the public, hear their concerns and process their feedback to improve their quality of life.

This also means that we want to work with the ones providing the services to build a strong dialogue both between the service providers and the authority, as well as building strong bridges between the service providers themselves to share information and better their services.

Anyone who wishes to get in touch with the authority regarding feedback on any social welfare service may send us an email on feedback.scsa@gov.mt or call us on 2549 4345.

Matthew Vella is chief executive officer, Social Care Standards Authority.