The new St Michael Hospice should “feel like home”, according to the Hospice Malta CEO.
Every day, about 50 workers are busy converting the 15,000 square metre Adelaide Cini Institute in Santa Venera into St Michael Hospice, a new complex geared to provide palliative care.
The doors of the Hospice will open towards the middle of next year, Kenneth Delia told Times of Malta as he gave a guided tour of the building.
Once complete, 16 private rooms will be available for Hospice patients. Each room will have its own garden and bathroom, he said.
“The aim is to make the place feel like home,” Delia said.
Palliative care concerns people living with a life-limiting illness and looks to provide relief from physical pain as well as providing psychological, social and spiritual care.
“Hospice care is all about the quality of life,” Delia stressed.
It is a priority for the building not to feel like a hospital and people staying at St Michael Hospice will have privacy and a place to enjoy their last days in the best way possible, he said.
Delia emotionally recounted a story of a friend’s family member who was receiving care abroad in an inpatient unit.
“My friend describes this time as a difficult but beautiful period for his family,” Delia said. “Issues between family members can be resolved in those moments.”
The specific admission criteria, including complex symptom management and end-of-life care, will allow for patients to be admitted for short stays and this will enable a turnover of around 500 patients.
Despite being a first Maltese palliative inpatient centre, Hospice care’s focus must remain on community treatment, he said.
A separate wing of St Michael Hospice will be a day therapy unit, welcoming Hospice patients still living in their homes.
The area will include a drop-in room for patients coming to the centre for the first time. There is also a physiotherapy gym and an area dedicated to activities such as crafts, spiritual sessions, group therapy and cultural talks.
A small area for planting has also been set up.
Aside from care, the day unit serves as a respite for relatives who can feel reassured that their loved ones are in a safe and welcoming environment surrounded by others passing through similar difficulties in their lives, Delia said.
The €13 million project is co-funded by the government, the EU, fundraising and private donors. A sum of €8 million was granted by the National Social and Development Fund while €1 million have been acquired through EU funding.
The Church handed over the property to Hospice Malta in 2019. The rest of the funds came through Hospice Malta savings and fundraising, Delia said.
An educational wing dedicated to the promotion of palliative care with the public and professionals will be on the first floor of the two-storey building and a mortuary and a medical equipment store will also be on the premises, he said.
600 patients at any one time
Around 42 staff members and some 200 volunteers will tend to around 600 Hospice patients, who are mostly residing in the community.
The organisation’s staff is soon set to increase to 90 professionals as demand for Hospice services continues to grow.
The 14 nurses currently working at Hospice are assigned as key workers to different patients. They are then responsible to manage the best treatment for patients.
Other professionals, including doctors, psychologists and social workers, then contribute to the patient’s treatment.
The financial support obtained through government funds goes directly for services and partially covers staff salaries.
Two hundred volunteers act as support staff, helping with fundraising, transporting patients and some administrative duties. Around 13,000 hours are provided through volunteers throughout the year. Patients will not pay anything.
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