Monday, October 03, 2005

Mount Alvernia: "A home from home"

Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Minister for Social Services Yvette del Agua officially inaugurated the newly refurbished premises of Mount Alvernia on Thursday night.

The works at Mount Alvernia have cost an estimated £3.5million, with the Trustees of the John Mackintosh Trust (represented on the night by Philip Barton) contributing £1.5million to the project.

The number of staff has almost doubled, as has the bed capacity, and several new areas have been created throughout Mount Alvernia for the rest and relaxation of the residents.

Also present at the inauguration were Director of Mount Alvernia, Carmen Maskill and the Bishop, Monsignor Charles Caruana.

Peter Caruana was the first to address the assembled guests, calling the official inauguration of the home ‘an important event’ and thanking all those who had put time and effort into the project. He said the opening marked “a watershed in this community’s commitment to the way we look after our senior citizens when they can no longer look after themselves”.

The Chief Minister made brief reference to the state of affairs at Mount Alvernia before it was taken over by the Elderly Car Agency, expressing that while he did not wish to be critical about how things were done in the past which “may have reflected social circumstances in Gibraltar at the time”, it was important that everyone agreed that “in an economically prosperous community, which is what Gibraltar is, it is important that we invest a share of the economic wealth that we create in our social services.” He called Gibraltar’s social services the ‘Cinderella’ of public services investment, and referred to Mount Alvernia as an important first project in the further investment in social services.

Mr Caruana also addressed the recent criticism of increasing growth in public expenditure, claiming that most of the growth in spending by the Government “was out of the Government’s control because it was inflation driven”; but that investing in this particular project was a conscious choice which the Government had made. He vowed to continue with Government plans to modernise Gibraltar’s social services, and added that those in business in Gibraltar who benefited financially from the community should also “be willing to contribute to make social provision for that community as well”.

The Chief Minister concluded by affirming that Mount Alvernia was “a modern, loving, caring, residential facility and it is no longer an institution. It is a home from home”.

Handing over to Carmen Maskill, Peter Caruana thanked her and her staff for their contributions to the creation of the facility, and paid tribute to the service the staff offered the residents whilst the refurbishment works were underway.

She welcomed everybody to “the new Mount Alvernia”, highlighting “the willingness, caring and enthusiasm of the staff which sustains the success of the building”.

Ms Maskill also thanked the Minister for Social Services for her understanding and support during the duration of the project.

Social Services Minister Yvette del Agua explained to those present that she had been involved with the project from the start, and had developed a close working relationship with Carmen and her staff. Ms del Agua personally thanked them for their determination, hard work, and their dedication to senior citizens. She then unveiled the plague marking the official inauguration of the new building, with help from the Bishop. Mount Alvernia’s oldest resident then presented a bouquet of flowers to Yvette del Agua.

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