Touched by clients’ unconditional love
“You only understand the extent of the unconditional love once you experience it” – Janet Silvio
Casa Apap Bologna has become a place where friendships flourish, and Executive Director of HILA Homes Ltd., Janet Silvio, hopes that the same feeling of an extended family thrives at the new home in Qormi, dedicated for the care of those suffering from ALS and neurological conditions.
This is the second house that is opening its doors under the umbrella of HILA (Home to Independence and Limitless Abilities), set up in 2015. And Janet, is dedicated to the cause. Originally called Casa Santa Monica, it changed its name when “destiny introduced the group to Bjorn Formosa”, the 31-year-old man who set up the ALS Malta Foundation after he was diagnosed with the condition himself.
HILA’s initial plan for the house, cradled in the centre of Qormi, was to create a residential home for independent supported living for people with disability.
“When we heard of Bjorn’s wish to have a home for people with neurological conditions, we wondered whether we could help out, without initially thinking of the Santa Monica house, which was being refurbished.”
In April, HILA met Bjorn, who had started his own discussions with the government. In the meantime, he had also started collecting funds to furnish the house with inclusive equipment, such as electronics that function through eye-gaze technology.
HILA wants its services to be more financially accessible to people with a disability and their carers, and its discussions with the government about other homes are geared towards a PPP (Public Private Partnership) within this sector.
How does the Vassallo Group bridge business and care?
“The Vassallo family decided to invest in this sector for a social purpose. HILA aims to be sustainable to generate enough to re-invest back in this sector.”
When three years ago the Group felt the need to expand its care services to the disability sector and Janet was asked to step in, she immediately accepted this challenge, as she believed the sector required a lot of support.
She spent a good year researching and looking into what was already available, networking and meeting with people with a disability, their parents and service providers. And that is how HILA was born.
HILA’s first project was that of Casa Apap Bologna in Mosta, which started hosting clients last year. This care home, the first of its kind for Malta, has adopted a universal design, meaning it is accessible from all aspects, whether intellectual or physical.
The house provides clients – and their carers – with respite that can last an afternoon or weeks, however, it is not a permanent residential home.
Each client has their own care plan, and this can include anything from a life skills programme, to going for a walk. Some help out with the upkeep of the house and lay the table before dinner, or wash the dishes afterwards.
The house also hosts monthly “fun-filled, live-in weekends”, which Janet tries not to miss.
“It’s a personal pleasure to be there, and I really miss our clients when I have to skip a weekend. You only understand the extent of the unconditional love that you receive from a person with a disability once you experience it.”