RMHC Malta

RMHC Holds Second Annual Conference On Family-Centred Care

More than 120 people came together to discuss ‘Family and Person-Centred Services for Children and Young People with Disability’ at the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ second annual conference in Malta on April 28 at the Xara Lodge.

The event, held in collaboration with the University of Malta’s Department of Disability Studies and Aġenzija Sapport, focused on the needs of children and youngsters living with a disability and of their families, and the physical, educational, and psychological support they require.

Opening the event, RMHC Malta Chairman Martin Xuereb said: “RMHC’s core mission in Malta and worldwide is to promote and help improve family-centred care, an approach to healthcare that involves the entire family, which is supported as it cares for a child. At its Learning Centre in Qawra, RMHC offers spaces for NGOs which share its mission, and puts resources at their disposal.”

“RMHC’s philosophy is aligned with the importance attributed to children and families by the Department of Disability Studies,” Dr Maria Victoria Gauci, Head of the Department of Disability Studies, said, as she commended RMHC for providing an inclusive and safe space for everyone. “Professionals and stakeholders will take the findings of this conference and put them into practice in their work.”

Aġenzija Sapport Chief Executive Officer Oliver Scicluna spoke of the long-standing collaboration with RMHC: “The Agency has been using RMHC’s premises to host initiatives such as workshops for some time. There we interact with NGOs to share experiences and create a better environment for children with disabilities.”

A panel discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities of implementing inclusive services. The panel was composed of Georgette Bajada, Head of Department in Inclusive Education at the Secretariat for Catholic Education in Malta; Nathalie Buhagiar, lecturer at the Faculty of Health Sciences within the University of Malta; Valentina Caruana, Leader Children’s Social Work Services at Aġenzija Sapport, and Tonio Axisa, Executive Director, RMHC Malta.

Another discussion focused on the lived experience of the holistic family-centred approach and heard the views of parents and siblings. Neville Cassar Bonavia, whose elder son Alex was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of two and a half, said: “Parents of children with a disability appreciate the space to raise awareness of the challenges that they face and the ability to contribute to the better orientation of services to their needs.”

RMHC Malta is part of a global network that hosts programmes and services to children, young adults and their families in more than 60 countries. RMHC has enjoyed the support of McDonald’s owners, operators, suppliers, employees and customers around the world since 1974. The Malta chapter’s lead benefactor is Premier Restaurants Malta which operates nine McDonald’s restaurants across the Maltese Islands.

The Department of Disability Studies within the University of Malta’s Faculty for Social Wellbeing spearheads research and trains professionals in the local sector. Aġenzija Sapport is the National Agency responsible for providing professional services to persons with disabilities.

RMHC Malta Chairman Martin Xuereb opening the conference

Panel discussion at the RMHC Malta annual conference

About Ronald McDonald House Charities in Malta

The Ronald McDonald House Charities Malta Chapter (rmhc-malta.com) is committed to give children access to specialised support to enable them to pursue their education and enrich their lives. It creates, funds and supports programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of children at its purpose-built Learning Centre in Qawra and to serve children challenged by poverty, disability and learning difficulties. On its own and in partnership with other organisations, RMHC hosts educational and therapeutic programmes to assist children and young people gain the core skills and competences necessary for adulthood.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities is an international non-profit network with a mission to keep families with sick children close to each other and to the care and resources they need (www.rmhc.org). McDonald’s has been the RMHC’s Mission Partner since the first Ronald McDonald House was built in Philadelphia in 1974. RMHC delivers programmes and services in more than 65 countries and regions and impacts the lives of millions of children and their families around the world every year.