New Publication by Joseph Troisi and Marvin Formosa

Supporting Family Carers of Older People in Europe: The National Background Report for Malta (Berlin: Lit-Verlag Publishing, ISBN 3-8258-9247-6, 14.90 EUR) is the title of a new publication from Joseph Troisi, Director of the European Centre for Gerontology, and Marvin Formosa, who lectures in the same Centre. Published by the renowned Lit-Verlag publishing house, this important publication discusses how the concept of active ageing lies at the heart of the public policy which the government of Malta has with regard to older persons. The authors highlight how the government strives hard to promote a positive self-perception among older persons themselves, whilst aiming at eradicating any form of ageist attitudes by instilling positive attitudes by instilling positive outlooks towards elderly persons by the general population. Troisi and Formosa also note how expenditure on social programmes catered for the Ministry of Social Security absorbs a relatively large share of economic activity and the government budget in Malta. Apart from administration expenses, this expenditure includes government’s contribution to the social security system, expenditure on benefits, as well as expenditure on family welfare, services related to the care of elderly persons, housing etc.

The key contribution of this study is that authors outline the key implications of an ageing society for family carers, service providers, and policy makers. Primarily, Troisi and Formosa advice that whilst the family carers’ opinions must continue to be actively sought by health and care professionals involved in the provision of services for older persons, family carers themselves must also continuously familiarize themselves with available services so as to be able to request help when respite is needed. Secondly, the authors attest that although it is positive that the Department of the Elderly and Community Services is constrained by the Quality Service Charter to provide all home care services at a high quality level, it remains important that service providers develop a network of liaisons and communication so that services are not duplicated and resources pooled for the benefit of cares and cared-for elderly Maltese. Finally, Troisi and Formosa claim that with the increasing costs incurred by the government with respect to residential care, and the demand for such care is growing more rapidly than the supply, one expects that the State’s economic and psychological support to family carers will be strengthened. Indeed, it is high time that the issue of the informal carers’ role and socio-economic circumstances are placed on current policy agenda so that the care being provided to the elderly is recognised both at policy level and at service/programme level.

The book stems from a large European project called EUROFAMCARE, an acronym for “Services for Supporting Family Carers of Elderly People in Europe: Characteristics, Coverage and Usage”. Professor Troisi is also a member of the International Advisory Board of EUROFAMCARE. The project was funded by the European Union within the 5th Framework Programme entitled “Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources”, and coordinated by the Institute for Medical Sociology and Social Gerontology, at the University of Hamburg in Germany