Measures put in place in disability services in Malta
The following are measures put in by Agenzija Sapport, Agency responsible for the provision of support for people with disabilities in Malta, in relation to residential homes, day centres and community services.
- Day Services have been closed at the request of national government;
- All visits to residents in care homes have been stopped. Instead residents are encouraged to and provided with the facilities to contact their families online;
- All outings/group events have been stopped;
- Social work interventions are provided online/over the phone except in cases of emergency and after scrutiny of the situation by service professionals;
- Staff and people using services are have their temperature taken at least 3 times daily;
- Frontliners have been provided with PPE (personal protective equipment);
- All employees have been given instructions about sanitising;
- Food and medicines are being delivered to residences to avoid community contact;
- All appointments, except for emergency medical appointments, have been postponed;
- Respite services for persons with disability have been stopped;
- Community services are only provided in cases of emergency and after scrutiny of the situation by the service professionals;
- The Agency promotes use of email, telephone and e-forms instead of drop-ins at care points
- The Agency communicates regularly with staff, people using services and their families through phone and email to ensure that the message is reached
- Office-based staff and social workers have been requested to telework or work on rotation;
- An email address has also been made available for employees to forward their request for support together with ongoing support from the Agency’s Human Resources Department and Management.
This crisis has unfortunately led the Agency to reduce drastically the amount of services and support given to persons with disabilities and their families. However, the Agency adopted these measures to minimise the potential of the virus spreading among the most vulnerable while constantly supporting people using services and their families to ensure their wellbeing. This is indeed a challenging period, particularly trying to operate the remaining services as staffing issues may arise due to the virus spreading among personnel.
Other measures include:
Providing support for people to stay at home and employees to work from home
Vulnerable people have been requested to stay at home and if they work, to do it through teleworking to minimise social contact. The national government has requested employers as the Agency to enable employees to telework and is assisting agencies and businesses with the costs incurred to make this possible.
A Helpline to support older people and people with disabilities has been made available
This helpline has been created to provide older people and people with disabilities with support regarding food and medicines, which will be coordinated and delivered to their own homes. Persons with disabilities may further receive such help with a specific email dedicated for the Deaf community.
Providing accessible information to persons with disabilities, including sign language, audio and easy read materials
The team of sign language interpreters within Aġenzija Sapport are attending press briefings and interpreting the measures and briefs from the authorities on a daily basis. These are streamed live thus ensuring that messages are rendered accessible to the deaf community. Information about prevention, hygiene and generic information about Covid-19 is also being disseminated among the wider public, the Agency’s employees and people using its services on a regular basis. A page has been created on the Agency’s official website with regular updates from various local sources. These resources include also easy-to-read documents published through the page and its social media platforms. The page is available through https://sapport.gov.mt/en/About-Us/Pages/Informazzjoni-dwar-il-Corona-Virus.aspx.