The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Caring For people with disabilities and their families

Malta Independent Sunday, 16 November 2008, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

ANTONELLA AGIUS MICALLEF is the manager of Dar Il-Kaptan – a respite home for people with disabilities. Here she talks to Erika Brincat about the challenges and rewards of helping to run such a home.

How long have you been involved with the Foundation for Respite Care Services and what is its purpose and philosophy?

The Foundation for Respite Care Services is committed to providing a professional Respite Service to people with disabilities and to their families. Their aim is to ensure that families receive adequate support and the necessary respite to enable them to cope, so that people with disabilities can remain in their family home and continue to live in their community. I have been involved with the Foundation in different departments for 17 years. I have no regrets and the job gives me a lot of satisfaction. The fact that every day through my work I am helping people in need makes me very satisfied.

The philosophy of the Foundation is to provide a service based on the individual’s right to dignity, respect and privacy. By adhering to these fundamental principles we provide a service that enhances the individual’s potential and enriches his/her quality of life.

When and why was the Foundation set up exactly?

In 1990, the lack of a respite care service was recognised by the National Parents Society for Persons with Disability and in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disability, the necessary steps were taken leading to the establishment of the Foundation. Rotary International through its Malta Club were instrumental in the setting up and the opening of the Home. They continue to support Respite Care Services to this very day.

Dar il-Kaptan at Mtarfa was officially inaugurated on 10 November 1991. It houses the administration and the residential Respite Home of the Foundation. The Foundation, today offers residential and day respite care to over 200 persons with disability. They usually spend anything from a day to a week (or longer if necessary) at the home. These stays offer respite for family members as well as a welcome break from the daily routine for persons with disability. We also offer day programme services for those member clients that do not attend any of the special schools and sheltered workshops.

Our goals are to keep a clear focus on the needs and wishes of each individual client, to afford dignity to each individual and to respect his/her cultural and religious background, to provide care services that are discreet, sensitive and appropriate to the needs of each individual and to ensure that the standard and scope of service delivery is consistent and accessible to all service users, regardless of their ability, condition or behaviour. Our care practices are based on these principles and we constantly seek to improve them and to continue monitoring them, thus ensuring quality of services.

Are the carers professionally trained for dealing with people with disabilities and specific physical and psychological needs they may have?

Quite a number of staff members come to us with some experience of care already. On appointment they are given an induction programme of specialised training in all aspects of care. Every year we have a full week of training delivered by specialists in care for the disabled. We regularly call upon specialists when expert advice is required.

Do you have visitors from every age group and social background?

People of all ages visit Dar il-Kaptan varying from students to pensioners. These people visit Dar il-Kaptan to gather information on our services and sometimes even as volunteers to give a helping hand.

What services are you committed to providing?

We are committed to provide planned breaks to clients and carers, maintain the continuity of care from home to Dar il-Kaptan, ensure a professional and trained staff who look after the clients and monitor their well being in a homely environment; act to accommodate when possible, holidays, important functions, hospital treatments and much needed breaks; liaise with other professionals and voluntary organisations to ensure the best possible and holistic delivery of care; facilitate daily living and social skills, to develop and to encourage self worth, confidence and independence; provide assessment, advice and support to clients and carers and share our knowledge and skills with the public and other organisations in order to create a better understanding of the needs of people with disabilities.

How do you manage to raise funds for the home?

The Foundation is a non-profit non-governmental organisation. The running costs are partially met through an annual grant from the Maltese government. Additional income is raised through membership and service fees, donations, charitable contributions, testamentary settlements and fund-raising activities. Rotary Club members raise funds specifically for Dar il-Kaptan – they have been a constant feature for almost two decades now and have helped the Foundation in its constant struggle to make ends meet.

Running a respite care home and ensuring the provision of excellent services for clients does not come cheap. While the government provides around 60 per cent of the funding, the Foundation has to work very hard to ensure that enough money is raised to cover the remaining 40 per cent.

The Foundation is heavily reliant on the generosity of business concerns and private individuals, and had it not been for this generous help that we receive regularly we would have ceased operating long ago. We encourage companies and organisations to assist us by organising activities to raise the much-needed funds. A typical case of this is McDonalds Malta, who for this year’s World Children’s Day chose our organisation as beneficiaries. The event is taking place on Saturday 22 November at all McDonalds restaurants. For every meal bought at McDonalds Malta on that day they will be donating e2.30 to Dar il-Kaptan.

To make donations buy Dar il-Kaptan’s renowned Christmas Cakes and Christmas Logs or attend the upcoming fund-raising activities open to the public, namely the Christmas Dinner Dance at Razzett l-Antik on 5 December, the Breakfast with Santa at Ristorante Cosmana Navarra on 7 December and a bazaar at Saqqajja Hill from 10 to 14 December.

For further information one can contact Antonella Agius Micallef at the Foundation for Respite Care Services, Dar il-Kaptan, Dar il-Kaptan Road, Mtarfa MTF 1155 on 2145 0103 / 4. Email address: [email protected]

Donations can be deposited in:

BOV Account No: 14606813014

HSBC Account No: 039034491001

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