Dementia caregiver support in Malta

In response to the growing challenge that dementia is posing on the Maltese society at large, in 2015 Malta launched its first national dementia plan entitled Empowering Change: A National Strategy for Dementia in the Maltese Islands (2015-2023) with the objective of enhancing the quality of life of individuals with dementia, their caregivers and family members.

Among the various interventions streams highlighted in the strategy document, community-based dementia management, care and support was considered a priority that needed urgent attention. In view of this, a specialised team of multidisciplinary health and social care professionals (the Dementia Intervention Team) was developed with the aim of providing support to individuals with dementia and their informal caregivers in their home environment. Even though this service was initially launched as a pilot project manned by two healthcare professionals, it soon gathered momentum.

Currently, the service boasts of six highly skilled professionals who visit more than 600 community-dwelling individuals with dementia and their caregivers per year. Through a dedicated landline, the team is in constant contact with caregivers who require advice of various issues related to dementia care. In collaboration with the National Dementia Helpline and working closely with community-based clinicians and geriatric specialists, the team identifies and intervene on cases that need urgent intervention. It also acts as a main body for advice for caregivers on other support services that are available and as member of the National Dementia Working Group, is involved in shaping dementia policy.

The importance of such a service was highlighted during the COVID-19 emergency in which the team played a central role in ensuring that individuals with dementia get the right information pertaining to the effects of the pandemic on the wellbeing of these individuals.