Updated: Shocking conditions in private home for the elderly contracted by government

An investigation by The Shift into the conditions in homes to house the elderly used by the government revealed shocking conditions.

Information gathered by The Shift has found that elderly people homed in Casa Serena, located in Bugibba, are living in an environment below required standards.

A number of beds within the private home are being made use of by the government to house elderly people. The deficiencies inside the home include wires hanging out from the ceiling in the lobby area where residents spend most of their time, ongoing construction works surrounding the home, ‘falling debris’ signs at the door, and construction waste piled on the home’s verandah.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Minister for Family Michael Falzon told The Shift to refer to replies from the Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA) and refused to comment on the situation.

An ‘Attention Falling Debris’ sign and exposed wires hanging in the residents’ lobby.

The inadequate conditions of the home were highlighted by the relative of a client who approached The Shift after his elderly relative was transferred to Casa Serena from Karin Grech hospital through government-organised procedures.

He said that after the building was changed from a hotel to an elderly residence, it was not transformed to sufficiently take on the function of the latter. The building includes narrow staircases and a small elevator. He questioned how beds would be rushed down to an ambulance in the case of an emergency. 

He added that during the day, residents could not go out onto the verandahs because of the construction works being carried out. 

Another verandah at the home blanketed in white construction dust. 

When contacted by The Shift, the SCSA, which was created by the government to monitor standards in 2018, said that the conditions have led to halting the intake of patients by the home.

The issues at the home highlighted during an inspection by the Authority “need to (be) addressed immediately,” the spokesperson said. The Authority also said it had “alerted the responsible authorities with regards to health and safety” on ongoing works.

The General Manager of the home, Michael Galea, told The Shift that Casa Serena justified the works as the final stages of “a massive extension and refurbishment project”. 

“All masonry and construction works have been safely completed and the final finishing works are in progress. The location of the finishing works is well separate from the areas presently occupied by the residents,” he said.

He added that a health and safety firm has been engaged from the inception of the project and carries out regular visits. “I can assure you that there is no falling debris and there is no ongoing construction work in the verandahs,” he said, even though the ‘attention! falling debris’ sign on the front door suggests otherwise.

Questions were also sent to the government agency on whether the clients housed there prior to the halt remained living within the environment. Questions remained unanswered at time of writing, but were replied to following the publication of the article (see below).

There are over 2,500 persons on the waiting list for admission into elderly homes.In 2011, this number stood at 1,107 people.

It remains unclear what agreement on bed usage the government has had with this specific home, and questions sent to the SCSA and the home regarding the agreement were left unanswered.


Updated: SCSA’s reply

In a reply to this article, the SCSA said that it is informed that the Active Ageing and Community Care are transferring all older persons who accepted the offer to be relocated.

“The remaining residents, who at the moment preferred to stay in this home, are in a safe part of the residential home. The Authority is monitoring the home on regular basis to ensure the safety of the residents. When conditions are deemed up to standard by SCSA, admissions will resume,” it said.

The authority added that when the case of Casa Serena was brought to it’s attention, “immediate action” was taken on the home.


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