Contractor building another Gozo elderly home as competition intensifies

The new six-storey facility will be the first of its size in Gozo and its success will mostly depend on the government

 

As the long-drawn saga over the opening of a new government residence for the elderly in Ghajnsielem drags on, the Planning Authority has given a building contractor a permit to build an unsightly six-storey private residential home for the elderly in Victoria.

Simon Grech – already the recipient of a Gozo Ministry half-a-million-euro-a-year direct order for his Casa Amalia dementia nursing home – is aiming to build a new 57-room home before the government’s own facility is completed

If successful, the ministry will effectively be forced into buying most of the newly available beds.

Intended as a repeat of his Casa Amalia deal, with public funds used to bankroll the investment, Grech – known for his proximity to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri and a regular feature on the ministry’s direct orders list – was last month granted a permit to demolish an abandoned building next to the Arkadia complex on Victoria’s main thoroughfare and to erect a six-storey private home for the elderly in its stead.

The project, which was opposed by Din l-Art Helwa because it jars with the rest of the streetscape and will have a negative impact on views of the historic Cittadella, was nevertheless approved by the Planning Authority over the festive season just passed.

Apart from the 57-bed capacity, the new facility will also have a chapel, morgue, six clinics, offices and an underground car park.

Experts in the elderly care industry speaking to The Shift say while the facility will be the first of its size in Gozo, its success will mostly depend on the government.

The site of the ‘Cupid’ in Victoria where the new home for the elderly, which has been opposed by Din l-Art Helwa because of its sheer size, is to be built by contractor Simon Grech.

That is because demand for such facilities in Gozo is low given that most of the island’s elderly remain in their place of residence or with those they are dependent upon and “wouldn’t even dream of paying for care”.

They explained that if and when the 10-year wait for the government to open the Ghajnsielem home comes to an end, there will be more than enough free government beds for the island’s needs.

According to industry insiders speaking to The Shift, this means the investors behind the new private home have either realised the ministry’s home will never happen or they already have some kind of promise of a new government contract – such as that with Casa Amalia – to buy most or all of the new home’s beds.

Apart from Grech’s new venture, another private home to be developed by Care Malta – part of construction magnate Zaren Vassallo’s group – was announced in 2021. This 60-bed facility is expected to be built on the site of the former Astra Disco in Victoria.

“Clearly all this private investment in private elderly homes does not make economic sense. However, the businessmen involved are no fools and rest assured they already have plans up their sleeves,” experts speaking to The Shift predict.

The government has been bankrolling private businesses in the elderly sector in the past years, spending tens of millions of euros a year in a bed buying scheme. The biggest scandal was a multi-million-euro direct order for James Caterers and the DB Group related to an extension at St Vincent De Paul Long Term Care Facility.

While the scheme’s rules are shrouded in mystery with the government negotiating incongruent  deals with different businessmen without publishing any contracts, many new private retirement homes have sprouted up all over the island as began to tap more into an almost guaranteed business sector.

In Gozo, the public residence promised in 2013 has not yet come to fruition and after a decade the building in Ghajnsielem has been left unfinished despite three different Gozo ministers and many more promises.

Hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds have already been wasted on the home and its opening is still, but the continuous delay may now prove to be good news for businessmen investing in private homes.

                           
                           
                               
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John C.
John C.
12 days ago

I am sure that Bediqqinu, the usual director and the puppet PS already finalised the terms and conditions with him and his girlfriend and rest assured that did not favors only the contractor. The cake will be shared between them all like the big lovely family they are!

M.Galea
M.Galea
12 days ago

L ekonomija b sahhitha w d dar ta l anzjani li beda dal gvern ghadha hemm gebel u saqaf abbandunata! Tal misthija!! U l gahan ghadu jcapcap!

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