Malta’s Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) has a workforce of over 800 employees and brings together a series of agencies with responsibility for social services across the country, including Sedqa (alcohol, drugs, and gambling addictions), ACTS (agency for community and therapeutic services), the child protection and alternative care directorates, and Appogg (services for people with disabilities).

The Foundation has taken measures to ensure that services continue whilst safeguarding the workforce, those in the front line as well as those in administration roles. Examples of these measures include:

Where possible, FSWS is operating its services in distinct shifts and groups to prevent they are in contact with each other so that in the event that a group has to be in quarantine, the other groups would still be available, and operations are not halted. With the measures that have been taken so far, FSWS is ensuring that it is still operating all its services, including residential services for children and drug rehabilitation, the substance misuse outpatients unit, domestic violence, risk assessment, child protection services and out of hours’ emergency services. Furthermore, FSWS is providing for crisis interventions.

However, the Foundation has applied the rule of minimum daily physical presence of 25% of its employees during normal working hours. This is being done to ensure continuity of service provision. Staff working directly with people using social services have been provided with instructions to ensure that they maintain regular contact with the people they currently support through the telephone. Therefore, telephone interventions are currently substituting scheduled/ongoing office visits, whilst a drop-in roster has been maintained in order to support attendance (e.g. for counselling related services) through the phone.

Sedqa agency, in particular, operates prevention programmes in schools or the community, hence it has been required to reschedule current sessions and focus instead on preparing material for future programmes.

Finally, FSWS operates a 24/7 national helpline, which is manned by professionals who can advise in relation to the Foundation’s remit and offer guidance to those in need. For further information, you can consult this document prepared by FSWS.