No inspections by Standards Authority at Dar Sant’Anna during coronavirus pandemic

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

No inspections were carried out during the coronavirus pandemic at the elderly care home Dar Sant’Anna in Gozo by the Standards Social Care Standards Authority.

Newsbook.com.mt filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the number of inspections carried out in the elderly care homes between January 2019 and May 2020. The authority upheld the request and provided the relevant information.

No inspections were carried out on Dar Sant’Anna between December 2019 and May 2020, according to the information provided. Dar Sant’Anna falls under the responsibility of Stewards Health Care. The Standards Authority carried out two inspections in January 2019, two inspections in February 2019 and another inspection in November 2019 at Dar Sant’Anna. The novel coronavirus emerged in China in December 2019, and the first case was registered in March 2020.

The Social Care Standards Authority is a regulatory body aimed at improving the quality and standards in social welfare services to protect and enhance the dignity, safety and welfare of all service users.

Around 70 residents at Dar Sant’Anna were relocated to Downtown Hotel in Victoria in April 2020. Two inspections were carried out in May 2020.

Newsbook.com.mt sent questions to Steward Health Care, Health Ministry, and Social Solidarity Ministry on the lack of inspections.

The Health Ministry was asked why no inspections by the SCSA were carried out at Dar Sant’Anna during the pandemic and if the health authorities were of the belief that this was adequate in light of expert advice which urged on strict controls for elderly care homes.

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry said that the Social Care Standards Authority did not fall within the said ministry.

A spokesperson for the Social Solidarity Ministry told Newsbook.com.mt that the authority will reply to the questions since it was independent from the ministry.

SCSA Director Governance and Assurance told Newsbook.com.mt that Dar Sant’Anna was not a residential care home as defined by Chapter 582 of the laws of Malta. She remarked that it was a ward which was part of the Gozo General Hospital. The director added that during the coronavirus pandemic, the ward was closed off and the patients were transferred to a hotel within the community.

Questions sent to Steward Health Care remained unanswered.

In a technical report on long-term care facilities, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control noted that there was a high mortality rate being registered in care homes. It added that it proved to be challenging to prevent outbreaks in care homes and successfully control them.

The SCSA had declared that Downtown Hotel was adequate to host elderly patients following allegations that the hotel was not up to standard.

Steward Health Care, the American-giant managing the Gozo General Hospital, sought an emergency licence from the Social Care Standards Authority to transfer patients at Downtown Hotel in order to free beds for possible coronavirus patients at the Gozo General Hospital.