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Meet the Team

Our Promise to You

Simblija Care Home promises a beautiful, elegant and safe environment which also provides the highest standards of good quality care. We believe in sharing this journey with our residents. We are partners in care and our residents’ dignity and autonomy are at the forefront of everything that we do.

We feel privileged to be entrusted with the care of our residents and to be part of their lives and their families’. Trust is the basis of everything that we do and we promise to repay that trust with the best possible service and care.

Charmaine Attard - Director of Care

Ms. Charmaine Attard has been appointed Director of Care in April 2015. Ms. Attard is a nurse by profession with more than 15 years’ experience under her belt. After graduating with a Degree in Nursing from the University of Malta, Ms. Attard worked as a staff nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital. She went on to work as a nurse, within the private sector, for several years and in the meantime read a Master in Nursing with the University of Manchester.

Having experienced being on the shop floor and garnering years of hands-on experience, Ms. Attard was promoted to various managerial positions which ranged from Home Manager at Casa Arkati to Operations Manager at Care Malta where, she was responsible for six facilities for the elderly.

For the last six years and just before joining AX Holdings, Ms. Attard served as Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Mater Dei Hospital and Karen Grech Rehabilitation Hospital. During these years she had more than 2000 staff members within her remit. Ms Attard is also an assistant lecturer within the Department of Nursing within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Malta where she has lectured for over ten years.

Ms. Attard is currently reading an MBA at The University of Leicester but what is probably her most significant quality and, most certainly what landed her the role of Director of Care with AX Holdings, is her passion for nursing and her belief that patients should always be at the centre of all decisions.

Ms. Attard believes that all those in the caring profession, including doctors and nurses, have the privilege to be close to patients when they are at their most vulnerable. They therefore have a duty to treat them with respect, dignity and the best care possible.

Having worked with AX Holdings in the past, Ms. Attard is convinced that Hilltop Gardens will offer the highest of standards in care and quality systems. Her aim is to create a patient-centric environment, where dedicated nurses and carers will be enabled and rewarded for their professional care.

Marco Vella - Head of Physio

Marco has an Honours Degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Malta.   He has worked with various entities within the Private sector, which has helped him to enrich his knowledge on all the different aspects of Physiotherapy.  He also had the opportunity to work with patients suffering from lower back injuries in a Danish medical institution.

Given his inclination towards sports from a tender age, Marco has developed a special interest in Sports Medicine & sports injury rehabilitation and to date has supported various sports clubs and national squads in their activities, both locally and in international competitions.

His recent experiences with a number of well-known NGOs have given him invaluable experience in the field of Neurological Physiotherapy and Disabilities. Despite being very challenging areas to work in, Marco finds that they are very rewarding as he feels that his input can serve to facilitate the patient’s ability to face his/her daily challenges.

Marco strongly believes in team work and gives his all in every challenge he undertakes. What with the energy, enthusiasm and vision that he applies to the job, he will surely be an asset towards strengthening our team of healthcare professionals at Hilltop Gardens.

Cynthia Scerri - Dementia Services Advisor

Cynthia Scerri graduated as an Occupational Therapist in 1988.  She went on to further her studies  in the field of geriatrics by following a post-graduate diploma in 2004 and in 2007 graduated with a Master’s Degree in Gerontology and Geriatrics.  Her career experiences included the setting up of Occupational Therapy (OT) services at Zammit Clapp Hospital as well as the Rehabilitation Hospital Karin Grech.

Eventually she became the Professional Lead Occupational Therapist and to date manages all the national OT services in Malta and Gozo.  This includes developing and directing the vision of the profession and services, setting and monitoring of standards of practice and organizing continuous professional development for staff.  She has also provided in-service training for Allied Health Professionals and nurses and organized a number of seminars.  Cynthia was the project leader for a Leonardo da Vinci LLP providing training opportunities for 14 OTs to have job shadowing opportunities in 7 different EU countries.  She is an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Health Science at the UOM where she lectures OT undergraduate students, nurses and other professionals.  Her main areas of interest include neuro-rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation and dementia studies.  She has carried out research in the field of dementia, hip fractures in the elderly as well as community services.

Cynthia Scerri has been engaged as a dementia consultant with Hilltop Gardens to provide expert advice on the set up of the dementia unit and surrounding environment and to provide training for staff.  She aims to ensure that the residents at the Hilltop Gardens have the opportunity to continue to engage in meaningful activities within an inclusive and safe environment that supports function and ensures dignity of residents.

Owen Sant' Angelo - Physiotherapy/Aquatic Therapy Services Advisor

Owen graduated from University of Malta in 2000, following which he has gained experience within the Maltese NHS in various hospitals, attended numerous courses and worked in a wide variety of clinical settings, until opting for an extended placement in aquatic therapy – an area in which he has developed a special interest over more than 10 years of dedicated hands-on experience.

This interest has translated into an ongoing effort to ameliorate local practise in aquatic therapy, raise local public and professional awareness of the benefits of this modality, and plan research at international level. Owen is also the Maltese contact for the international network of aquatic therapists that is affiliated to the global federation of physiotherapists WCPT, and in 2015 was a member of the first ever local physiotherapy team to receive a government grant that permitted them to attend an international conference on research in hydrotherapy.

Aside from hydrotherapy, Owen’s clinical interests include musculoskeletal injuries and conditions associated with the aging client. By 2007, he had participated in 6 years of the gruelling Life Cycle Challenge, proving to be the longest serving member of the medical contingent. Owen is constantly learning new skills and, in 2014, was conferred a Master’s degree in Bioethics – his thesis sought to define and raise the standards of professional excellence in local physiotherapy practise. Owen has served as clinical supervisor for undergraduate thesis and advisor to numerous students seeking help with their studies. He has a strong working relationship with colleagues and believes team work to be a keystone of excellent health care. Outside of work, Owen enjoys a full family life, DIY, reading and travelling.

Owen has been engaged as a physiotherapy/aquatic therapy consultant with Hilltop Gardens to provide expert advice on the set up of the physiotherapy and hydrotherapy units, in line with his ongoing commitment to ensure that residents and clients receive a holistic physiotherapy treatment within a unique state-of-the art facility, aimed at truly improving their quality of life in a functional manner.

Maria Schembri - Dietitian Advisor

Dietetics could be said to be Maria’s second phase in her career, but actually it is her first love. Maria uncovered a particular interest to dietetics during research conducted whilst reading for her B.Sc Hons Nursing degree, at the University of Malta.  Following the accomplishment of her first degree in Nursing, Maria spent five years working as a nurse within the Intensive Therapy Unit at the state hospital.

Further interest into the discipline of dietetics continued to remerge and eventually led her to continue furthering her studies as she read a Post Graduate Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics, acquired by distinction in 2005 from the University of Malta and subsequently became registered as a qualified nutritionist.

Yet, her interest did not simply cease at assisting healthy people improve on their eating habits but was further intrigued in actually assisting people with medical conditions  such as diabetes, coeliac, stroke suffers and much more, to improve their medical condition through an appropriately tailored diet.  Consequently she was awarded a scholarship which saw her travel to the United Kingdom to read for a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics offered by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.

Upon completion, Maria returned to Malta as a qualified dietitian following which, she started to practice her career at Mater Dei Hospital. Since then, she has assisted thousands of clients in improving their health through appropriately devised diet programmes which fit medical condition and physical state.

Besides the hands on aspect, Maria is also active in academia, engaged as a casual lecturer at the University of Malta by the Department of Food Studies and Environmental Health. She also sits as a board member of The Council for the Profession Complimentary to Medicine.

Roberta Chetcuti Galea - Speech Language Pathologist

Roberta Chetcuti Galea earned her qualification as a Speech Language Pathologist from the University of Malta in 2004. She started her career in Dublin, Ireland, where she worked for three years with individuals with intellectual disabilities. During that time, she also obtained a Master’s Degree in Clinical Speech and Language Studies from Trinity College in Dublin.

Upon her return to Malta, she started working at the rehabilitation hospital with older adults, specialising in conditions affecting speech, language and swallowing in the older adult population. In 2013, she went on to obtain a second Master’s Degree in Adult Education, during which she focused on older adult learning and presented a thesis entitled “Learning Opportunities for Older Adults Attending Community Day Centres: An Action Research Study.” Between January 2013 and May 2014 she also participated in an EU funded project undertook by four EU member states partners (Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Estonia) under the GRUNDTVIG projects for Lifelong Learning Programmes.

The aim of this project was to focus on education and learning of older men (60+) in the community who are often experiencing deprivation and social exclusion in the communities where they live. The programme included four visits within the participating member states including Malta (January 2013), Estonia (May, 2013), Portugal (November 2013) and Slovenia (May, 2014). Ms. Chetcuti Galea formed part of the team who also published the book “Older Men Learning in the Community: European Snapshots”.

This included her co-authored paper on Maltese case study about “Older Men Learning Through Religious and Political Membership: Case Studies from Malta.” Ms. Chetcuti Galea served as a PRO of the Malta Parkinson’s Disease Association from January 2011 till December 2013. Currently she is responsible of the SLP unit at the Rehabilitation Hospital Karin Grech and for SLP services at Mount Carmel Hospital.

Dorianne Coleiro - Counsellor

Dorianne started her career in 1993 with training in nursing where she followed a Bachelor’s degree offered by the University of Malta.  In 1997 she graduated with a BSc (Hon) Nursing Studies, which paved her way to engage in gainful employment as a staff nurse in the Intensive Therapy Unit for eight years.

Dorianne always looked at education as one of the powerful tools that provides opportunities for people to understand better themselves and their environment. Hence, during the time that she worked as a staff nurse, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Youth and Community Studies at the University of Malta, followed by a Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Manchester.

During this time, her career unfolded into various interests; particularly around education, supervision, and personal and professional development of professionals  and other workers providing their services within humanistic fields such as health, education and community work, as well as the psycho-social and emotional experiences of people living facing challenges to their health. She also grew to appreciate the interaction of the person(s) with the environment and developed an interest in looking into the social, cultural and political dynamics within the community setting both at a micro and a macro level. Consequently, in 2008 Dorianne started a Master’s Degree in Counselling at the University of Malta.

For Dorianne, this training served as a journey of exploration and acquisition of knowledge and competences to assist individuals in understanding their journey.  As a counsellor, Dorianne can provide people with opportunities to learn more about themselves, and to enhance one’s sense of self in relation to life situations.  In addition, counselling can help people understand how the dynamics of one’s experiences in life may be influencing one’s holistic well-being, particularly one’s psychosocial and physical well-being; and to help them take decisions and develop skills to engage in lifestyle and behaviour that fits best their needs whilst giving them the opportunity to better one’s well-being. During counselling training, the significance of providing client-centred care has become more in the focus of Dorianne’s therapeutic relationships that she develops with her clients.

Following this career path, nowadays Dorianne provides services as a counsellor. Her main areas of interest are health-related issues; challenging situations that involve change, loss, grief and bereavement; issues related to one’s personal and/or professional development; and relationships (couple, family, work and others). In addition, Dorianne is keen to be involved in the personal and professional development of personnel working both within the public and private sector.

Dorianne is currently also following doctoral studies at the University of Bristol. Through this opportunity, Dorianne is integrating her experiences as a counsellor with those experiences she obtained as a nurse.

Gabriella Debattista - Occupational Therapist

Gabriella Debattista is a practising occupational therapist who graduated from the University of Malta with First Class Honours in 2013. Having had an engaging work experience at Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital, and currently working at St. Vincent De Paul Residence, Gabriella aims to empower individuals to reach their maximum level of independence and improve their overall quality of life.

An area which is of interest to Gabriella is neuro-rehabilitation, having previously conducted a study evaluating the effectiveness of a stroke group as part of her thesis submitted in anticipation of her Bachelors degree. Gabriella is also a committee member of the occupational therapy PR Committee which is responsible for creating more awareness of the profession through the organisation of various events.

Gabriella emphasises that forming part of an inter-disciplinary team, in which knowledge and skills are shared amongst health professionals to reach common goals, results in a better quality of care. Outside work, Gabriella enjoys teaching children how to swim, practising waterpolo and socialising.

Gabriella will be providing Hilltop Gardens with her service in occupational therapy by assisting residents in participating in their activities of daily living, through a holistic approach based on supporting function and improving quality of life.

Melinda Sue Micallef - Occupational Therapist

Melinda Sue Micallef holds an Honours Degree in Occupational Therapy. She graduated in 2013 from the University of Malta and since then, she has had the opportunity to work in different hospitals around Malta.

This has helped her gain essential hands-on experience and to fulfil her aim of helping people and promoting good quality of life through meaningful activities in daily living. Melinda can be described as a determined team player; she is a perfectionist and has good time-management skills, which allow her to be very active even outside of work.

She loves sports and animals but it’s mostly her job that gives her the utmost satisfaction. For this reason Melinda plans to further her expertise by reading for a Masters Degree in the near future.

Erica Bartolo - Podiatrist

Erica Bartolo graduated from the University of Malta with an Honours Degree in Podiatry in 2012. For the past three years, she has been working in both the paediatric and geriatric field of podiatry including people living with different disabilities. This has been done through working in a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, which has provided her with a wider view beyond her profession, aiming to improve the quality of life of patients.

Erica is currently reading a three-year Masters degree in Clinical Biomechanics. The aim of her research is to emphasise the importance of linking diabetes and peripheral arterial disease to biomechanics. This is done in an attempt to move towards foot care education and prevention from lower limb ulceration and amputation.

Erica considers herself as having a good work ethic and is a patient-centred practitioner. She has recently successfully completed a course in Clinical Education in Practice aiming to pass these attributes to other students in the clinical setting.

With the provision of podiatric services and prevention from any undue ailments through education and lower limb screening, the residents of Hilltop Gardens Retirement Village will be able to maintain a healthier and more independent lifestyle.

Martha Camilleri - Occupational Therapist

Martha Camilleri graduated with a Bachelors of Honors degree in Occupational Therapy in 2013 from the University of Malta. Since then, she has had the opportunity to work in most areas related to Occupational Therapy, in the main hospitals in Malta.

 She has worked with a wide array of multidisplinary teams in various settings such as mental health, geriatrics, and paediatrics during her work placements. She has also been exposed to working within the acute setting of dementia care, were she organised groups particularly tailored for people with dementia. She is now working at Mater Dei Hospital in the acute setting of neurorehabilitation, where she is involved in the rehabilitation and discharge of clients.

As a student she also had the opportunity to take part in a three month  Erasmus programme abroad where she worked together with the NHS Wheelchair Service in Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, Wales.

As an Occupational Therapist, she believes in empowering the client in acquiring or maintaining a good level of independence, whilst making sure that the client’s safety is not compromised, and that a good level of assistance is provided.

Simon Gouder - Physiotherapist

Simon Gouder is a qualified physiotherapist with a B.Sc (Hons) degree from the University of Malta.  Since graduating in 2014, Simon has worked in various sectors within the public and private Health Sector. His experience ranges from orthopaedics to neurology, as well as musculoskeletal.

In 2010, he graduated with an M.Sc Degree from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle and is now working in the Hand Therapy Service and undergoing accreditation from The British Association of Hand Therapy (BAHT). Simon also assists in the running of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme at Mater Dei Hospital.

In order to stay up to date with the latest methods and findings, throughout his career, Simon has attended various courses and conferences both in Malta and overseas. He has also undergone a training experience at Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione (ISMETT).

Simon will be joining The Hilltop Retirement Gardens physiotherapy team, bringing with him a wealth of experience and knowledge which will surely contribute to the overall well being of residents and patients.

Matthew Schembri - Podiatrist

Matthew Schembri graduated from the University of Malta with an Honours Degree in Podiatry in 2014. Since graduating he has worked in most of the health centres on the island, where he has had exposure to a number of conditions and disabilities. Matthew believes that many complications may be easily prevented by simple lifestyle changes and by fully utilizing a patient oriented multidisciplinary team.

Matthew has always been interested in biomechanics, which is the mechanical understanding of the human body. A number of conditions can be treated with a good knowledge of biomechanics, including: diabetic ulcers, and musculoskeletal conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuromas, arthritis etc.

Matthew has represented Malta in sprint kayaking for a number of years. This sports background has instilled a number of qualities in Matthew such as discipline, determination, motivation and team work. Matthew is hardworking and always does his best in anything he sets his mind to.

With the right advice and lifestyle changes the residents of Hilltop Gardens Retirement Village can benefit from a healthier and more independent life.

David Meilak - Podiatrist

David Meilak graduated as a podiatrist from the University of Malta in 2009. For the past six years he has been serving in Malta’s main hospital, Mater Dei, where he was engaged as a senior diabetic podiatrist, where his role included the treatment of high risk diabetic clients. With regards to the Association of Podiatrists of Malta, David has given his contribution as association secretary, and is presently vice president of the podiatry association.

David describes his work with clients with diabetes as being very intense, offering very personalized podiatry care to clients that in some cases already have a lot to handle due to their diabetic condition and restraints, and other clients that are burdened with medical complications that include problems in circulation, the nervous system, and ulceration (diabetic wounds).

Besides his special interest in diabetic podiatry, David’s caseload also includes:

Vascular (circulatory) assessment of the lower limbs by Doppler ultrasound, high risk foot assessment, foot skin conditions and infections, lower limb biomechanical assessments, orthotic (insoles) prescription – design and manufacture, Ingrowing toenails treatment and surgery, hard skin and callous removal, and foot problems in older adults.

David’s work also includes hands on training for final year podiatry students, and he takes part in various TV programmes where he enjoys promoting foot health to TV viewers.

Presently David has been appointed to a new role at Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital where he aims to expand his expertise in diabetic and vascular (circulation) podiatry to the hospital’s clients.

David also enjoys other activities besides working as a podiatrist, where he enjoys sailing around the Maltese Islands, or simply listening to different types of music.

David is proud to be given the opportunity to offer personalized podiatry service to clients in the beautiful surroundings of Hilltop Gardens.

Laura Schembri - Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

Laura originally came from a health and fitness background, gaining her first certificate in teaching exercise to music in 1990. She continued her studies within the fitness industry
for several years before she decided to look deeper into injury prevention and enrolled in the physiotherapy course at the University of Malta, graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 2000. Her under-graduate dissertation was a practical study looking at the effects of stabilising exercises versus manual therapy on chronic back pain.

After graduating she was keen to carry on developing her knowledge and went on to take up post-graduate studies in Modified Pilates for Physiotherapists in which she is now considered to be an expert, especially in relation to correcting muscle dysfunction and relieving back pain. She has developed her skills as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and uses many different techniques to treat pain and rehabilitate her patients to optimise their potential outcomes. She also conducts courses for the internationally acclaimed Australian Pilates and Physiotherapy Institute and has lectured at conferences in Malta and the UK. She has recently graduated with an MSc in Sports Physiotherapy at the University of Bath after conducting further research on exercise therapy.

Her priority in her working life is to empower her clients towards leading the best life possible and remaining active.

Sarah Jane Zrinzo – Pilates Tutor

CDE Modern Dance and Classical Ballet (Imperial), FDI Tap Dance. (I.S.T.D, London). Level 3 (REPS) Certified and Registered with Body Control Pilates Association.

Sarah Jane made her professional debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, in ‘La Traviata’, directed by Sir Richard Eyre in 2009 and subsequently danced in the production for the next 5 years, including a season touring and performing in Japan.

Her other professional performing experiences include; London Eye 4D, spanish dancer for Stella Mann’s DVD, female vocals for Philip Bloom’s ‘Embryo – A Concept Album’ and as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street at The Radlett Theatre.

In 2013 she completed her Body Control Level 3 Pilates qualification and has recently attended the Pilates for Dancers course at the APPI, London. Her Pilates teaching experience in London includes; Gymbox, 37 Degrees, and the London Studio Centre.

Her earlier training started in Malta, at the Tanya Bayona Princess Poutiatine Academy of Ballet. At 17, she won a scholarship to the London Studio Centre where she went on to study at The Margaret Howard Theatre College. She took up a 3 year teacher training and performance Diploma, graduating with distinction and was awarded her CDE in Imperial ballet, Modern Dance and FDI in Tap Dance.

Sarah Jane has taught many genres of dance at various schools in London and Malta. Some of which include; The Rona Hart School of Dance, The Chelsea Ballet School, Montessori, Lucy Lovick Dance School and The Margaret Howard theatre college. Locally, she has taught for BGB school of Dance, Stagecoach & Energize Summer Club.

Since moving back to Malta, Sarah Jane has become part of the Teaching Faculty at The Dance Conservatoire.

Anna Catania - Counsellor

Anna Catania started her career in the Health Sector graduating with an honours degree in Nursing in 1995.  She worked in various settings including Zammit Clapp Rehabilitation Hospital, Mater Dei Hospital and Capua Palace Hospital Sliema where she was in charge of the Health Screening and Outpatients Services.

She then furthered her studies by obtaining a Masters in Counselling degree with distinction from the University of Malta.  She works with clients facing various life challenges including difficulties with anxiety, depression, career, relationships and self-esteem.  She understands the importance of processing thoughts and emotions where there are issues of bereavement, trauma and loss.  She has also worked in school settings and is trained to help children and adolescents deal with difficulties they face within and outside their familial environment.

She has a particular interest in working with clients who are dealing with chronic illness and cancer and believes that during illness the psychological and emotional needs of all the family need to be addressed.  On this subject, she has presented in various conferences and workshops both in Malta and abroad.  In fact her Master’s Research, which was the subject of a poster presentation at the 16th World Congress of Psycho-Oncology in Lisbon, focused on the experience of men when their partners have undergone breast surgery and oncological treatment after cancer.

Anna Catania is a member of the Malta Association for the Counselling Profession and strives to work within the frame work of that profession.  She brings with her a vast experience from the health sector which strengthens her counselling work and expertise.

Jean Pirotta - Podologist

In 1997 Jean Pirotta graduated from The University of Malta with a Diploma in Podiatry. He pursued his studies further at The University of  Brighton graduating with a Bachelor Degree with Honours in the year 2000.

More recently Jean has also completed a course in vascular disease of the lower limb focusing mainly on the prevention of ulceration – the main cause of amputation. Jean also works in a biochemical lab, and for the past six years he has also served as a clinical educator at the University of Malta.

Jean now joins the Hilltop Gardens’ team of medical and care professionals as a podologist. Bringing with him 18 years of multidisciplinary experience and an exceptional work ethic, Jean is determined to provide the highest levels of lower limb and foot care for residents.

Claire Dimech - Physiotherapist

Claire Dimech is a state registered physiotherapist. She qualified in 2007 with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Physiotherapy. She always had the well-being of the older person at heart. After working in various physiotherapy sectors within the public service, she decided to pursue her studies in Geriatrics and Gerontology.

In 2013 she obtained her M. Ger. from the University of Malta, whereby she researched falls prevention in older adults.

Throughout her clinical experience Claire has worked with older adults suffering from different conditions; musculoskeletal, neurological cases, general mobility and falls prevention and also in different settings; acute, long term and rehabilitation.

Claire keeps updated through different courses, she also attended an exchange program in Brussels where she got exposure to different work practices. In 2014 she started her second Master in Clinical Biomechanics where she shall be researching the difference in biomechanics between faller and non-fallers.