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150 people benefit from Hospice’s on-call service since its launch

The idea behind the initiative was to have professional staff available over the phone at hours when professional help is usually difficult to reach.

The idea behind the initiative was to have professional staff available over the phone at hours when professional help is usually difficult to reach.

Supported by the 2017 Malta Social Impact Awards, Hospice’s after-hours, on-call service is now in full swing. The service, which forms part of Hospice’s comprehensive palliative care, provides over-the-phone support, guidance and advice to any Hospice pa­tients, as well as their family members and caregivers.

The idea behind the initiative was to have professional staff available over the phone at hours when professional help is usually difficult to reach.

The staff would be trained to assist with any issues that could be resolved at the patients’ home, with the aim of targeting symptom management and psycho­social issues such as anxiety, as well as avoiding unnecessary hospitalisation.

Hospice Malta plans to open a Hospice complex, including an in-patient unit, by 2021, which will be the first Hospice palliative centre in Malta and will therefore give patients access to support on a 24-hour basis.

The project was awarded a €20,000 grant under the 2017 Malta Social Impact Awards, as well as mentoring from PwC to maximise the grant’s impact.The project was awarded a €20,000 grant under the 2017 Malta Social Impact Awards, as well as mentoring from PwC to maximise the grant’s impact.

Until then, there was need for a support service available to patients after Hospice opening hours. After piloting the service in 2017, Hospice realised they needed the appropriate techno­logy and software for the service to reach its full potential, and therefore applied for the 2017 Malta Social Impact Awards.

The project was one of five winners that year and was awarded a €20,000 grant, as well as mentoring from PwC to maximise the grant’s impact. The amount awarded covered the funding Hospice required to purchase the necessary technology, set up a patient database, execute the project’s marketing, as well as train the staff on call.

“The build-up and the support towards the formulation of the proposal, the focus on sustainabi­lity and the project’s social impact, together with the expert advice provided on analysing the service and marketing it, was instrumental in making this project a success,” Kenneth Delia, general manager of Hospice Malta, said.

Since its relaunch in January 2018, approximately 150 patients, family members or caregivers have benefitted from the service, using the support line to deal with a variety of physical and emotional issues arising from their illnesses.

One case involved a patient, Mary*, who was having problems operating her oxygen concentrator. She was struggling to breathe and her family started panicking and called the support line. Through the service’s online database, the nurse on duty had access to Mary’s profile and was therefore able to give step-by-step instructions to the patient’s husband on how to re­solve the issue. As soon as her husband managed to correctly operate the equipment, Mary was relieved and could breathe normally again.

If the Hospice support line wasn’t available, Mary’s issue would not have been resolved so quickly, the situation could have become even more serious and might have resulted in hospitalisation. The positive outcome of Mary’s story is just one example of the impact the support line has had.

“The figures show us that this service was really needed,” says De­lia. “The Social Impact Awards made our comprehensive palliative care more accessible to our pa­tients. It helped us to create the missing piece in our jigsaw puzzle.”

The Malta Social Impact Awards, a collaboration between Inspirasia Foundation and Gasan Foundation, brings the private sector and innovative changemakers together for the opportunity to develop and implement exceptional projects that will create positive social change in Malta. The winning pro­jects are all awarded both financial and non-financial support to see their project through to fruition.

Held annually since 2016, the Malta Social Impact Awards has given close to €250,000 in support to date and provided men­to­ring by PwC, Malta Academy for Chief Executives, Level Up and Take-Off.

Twelve inspiring projects have already been shortlisted for this year’s edition of the Malta Social Impact Awards, which will take place on November 15. For more information, visit www.siamalta.org or get in touch on info@siamalta.org.

* Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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