Even ahead of public health advice, Casa Antonia – a privately owned, professionally managed nursing and residential retirement home in Balzan currently hosting 150 residents – immediately took action and locked its building doors for all outsiders. At the same time, for Easter, now that the weather is much nicer and warmer, Casa Antonia organised a classical and popular music concert to alleviate the mood and lessen the feelings of isolation of its residents.
“We must do everything we can to protect our residents. We understand that, during this period, it is very hard for families and friends who cannot visit their loved ones but, at the same time, we are doing everything that we can so that our residents are kept both safe and in good spirits,” said Dr Sarah Cassar, the General Manager at Casa Antonia. She and her staff have just completed three weeks in lockdown at Casa Antonia.
To adhere to the new health procedures, the two performers entered separately through the external backyard gate of the nursing home and also performed separately in the garden for the enjoyment of the residents while maintaining social distancing. Harpist Jacob Portelli played classical pieces while Mario Mizzi played the piano and sang popular songs from the past.
“We would like to assure everyone that, to minimise any risk, we have a strict protocol in place,” said Dr Cassar. “We have nearly 70 members of staff including nurses, carers, kitchen staff, waiters, cleaners, maintenance staff, even the gardener, and myself, who have been on lockdown and away from our families for three weeks. Casa Antonia, in fact, was one of the first homes to go into total lockdown.”
The management invested in a number of iPads for residents to remain connected with their loved ones via Skype, Facetime or Zoom. Every effort is being made to maintain the normal daily routine, that residents are accustomed to. Fun and craft activities are organised daily. One of the Home’s residents living there is a monsignor and this makes it possible to hold a daily Mass in the chapel of Casa Antonia.
At the same time, while a part of the staff is on the three week lockdown period to assist the residents, administrative staff are working remotely from home, supporting the staff inside with any requirement that may arise.
“The situation demands more flexibility so, for example, the storekeeper gets there every morning and works from his car, waiting for deliveries to be made to the home. He has no access to the store anymore, so he checks all deliveries outside and leaves them at the service door entrance for maintenance staff to take inside. The home’s courier for example still carries out his daily errands as he picks and drops items for delivery to Mater Dei and other destinations but he does not go inside the home to respect the lockdown. Another person supporting the staff from the outside is the home’s activities coordinator. She prepares items for craft sessions and decorations, such as flower arrangements, outside in the garden, as we are doing everything possible, even in these circumstances, to maintain a cheerful atmosphere for our residents at Casa Antonia,” explained Dr Cassar.