How it all began…..
In 1987, on the initiative of a group of volunteers, a Steering Committee was formed with the aim of pioneering hospice and bereavement care services in our Islands.
In 1988, the Church authorities made available to this committee, a few rooms in part of the Cini Institute in Santa Venera. The Movement was based there until 1996 when it moved to its current premises in Balzan.
Also in 1988, a three day Seminar was held, on the initiative of Dr. Ray Corcoran FRCOG Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Consultant in Medical Education to the National Society for Cancer Relief. UK. The seminar was entitled “Palliative Care – A Multidisciplinary Approach” and was presented by a team of six palliative care specialists from the UK. Some 200 people from the medical and health care professions attended.
The aims of the seminar were to:-
• disseminate awareness of the Hospice concept
• provide up-to-date knowledge of palliative care
• promote the skills and attitudes needed by the multi-disciplinary team to enable them to care more effectively for people with cancer and their families.
The Malta Hospice Movement was officially constituted on 4th January 1989, when the Founding Members formally signed the statute which governs the Movement and initiated a modest Home Care Service.
The following year, St Michael’s Day Centre was officially opened in the presence of distinguished guests and personalities.
The occasion had a dual significance as a ‘Twinning Charter” was signed that day by Dr Ray Corcoran, on behalf of Hayward House, Macmillan Palliative Care Unit, Nottingham, UK and Mrs Theresa Naudi, on behalf of The Malta Hospice Movement.
The provisions of the charter were fulfilled through regular exchanges of staff and volunteers between the two units. Within a few years there were about fifty such exchanges which provided the opportunity to work alongside and under the supervision of the experienced staff of Hayward House.
In accordance with the Statute, the first Annual General Meeting, was held in June 1990. Reports were presented by the Chair and by the Secretary. The Treasurer presented the audited financial statements and elections to the Council were held.
Highlights of 1991 – 1996….
Education and training was at this time, as it has continued to be, a priority. Our nursing staff were sent on attachments and training courses at Hayward House and other hospices in the UK.
A joint bursary for a clinical attachment at Hayward House was offered by the Malta Hospice Movement and Hayward House to two Maltese doctors.
Our first ‘one sheet’ newsletter was circulated.
Government funding and growth of services….
We received our first, modest grant from Government in 1992. Though small, this was a very encouraging step which boosted our efforts to achieve sustainability. It meant that we could make concrete plans to develop and take on paid staff.
In 1993 we submitted our development plan to Government in which we declared that our ultimate goal was to establish an ‘In-patient’ Palliative Care Unit.
THIS CONTINUES TO BE OUR ULTIMATE GOAL
We initiated Social Work services, set up family support and bereavement support services. We began to accept university students on ‘practica’.
In 1994 we signed a Service Agreement with Government whereby we received an increase in our grant. This entailed the twice yearly preparation and presentation of Evaluation Reports to Government.
By this time we had long outgrown the area freely offered to us by the Church. We successfully launched our ‘HOME FOR HOSPICE’ appeal and before the end of 1996 we had moved to our current premises.
1997 – Consolidation and Growth….
Once in our new home we were able to expand and develop our services further.
In 2014, these services include
• Home Care – Professionals perform assessments and follow up visits to give support and advice.
• Day Therapy unit – For patients to enhance their quality of life and as respite for the relatives.
• Hydrotherapy – Patients are given group and one to one physiotherapy exercises in the pool.
• Respite by care assistants according to the patients’ and relatives’ needs.
• Patient transport – Transport from the patients’ home to hospital.
• Loan of specialised equipment – To facilitate patient care at Home.
• Hospital support to patients and to facilitate discharge from Hospital.
• Children’s summer programme for children of patients’ and main carers.
• Bereavement support for relatives and significant others.
As from January 2015, an ON-CALL SERVICE for Hospice registered patients was introduced:
• Monday to Friday – 16:30 to 22:30
• Weekends and Public Holidays – 08:30 to 22:30
Education on Palliative Care continues to be another pillar in Hospice services. Throughout the years, Hospice invests highly in its employees and volunteers (as part of its belief in continued professional development) apart from investing in a continuous education campaign for professionals as well as the general public in the Maltese islands.
The biennial conference continued to be organized on a national platform. In 2014, a record of participants attended the national conference on Advanced Care Planning. An address was also given by the then Health Minister Dr. Farrugia as well as Minister for Family and Social Solidarity, Ms. Coleiro Preca.
In 2014, Hospice Malta and the University of Malta signed a Collaboration Agreement concerning the European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care (ECEPC). Hospice Malta has organized the ECEPC course in Malta for the last three years. Spread over two months (September-November), the intensive course is aimed at doctors and nurses who wish to improve their knowledge and skills in palliative care. Students are provided with the necessary resources and assessed at the end of the course, which is run in association with Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. Over fifty professionals have so far completed the course successfully.
The Collaboration Agreement, was signed during an event hosted by Hospice Malta on Thursday 12 February 2015, formalized the accreditation of the ECEPC course as a unit within the University’s Programme in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (PLAS).
In 2014, Hospice Malta catered for over 1000 patients with an average of 58 new referrals each month.
Another Milestone – 25th Anniversary
2014 marked the 25th anniversary of Hospice Malta. A number of events were held to celebrate this occasion.