At a time when the number of nuclear families is growing, and changing lifestyles and hectic work schedules leaving people with little time for their families, senior citizens are increasingly finding themselves neglected.
Observing the alarming trend, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI) has started an innovative three-month certificate course, Senior Citizen Care, which is generating a good response. The International Longevity Centre in Pune says around 60 per cent senior citizens in the city need such care.
“There is definitely a huge demand for trained people in senior citizen care. The aspirational middle class is increasingly moving out of the city pursuing their career. Hence, the elderly are left behind all alone. They do not have anybody to take care of them. This leads to a lot of old-age problems,” said Anjali Raje, Executive Director, ILC.
“What these people want the most is companionship, housekeeping help and medical attention at the right time. Elderly people are prone to falls and if living alone they have to endure pain till found by someone,” added Raje. Talking about the kind of caregivers currently available in the city, Raje said: “All you can find are untrained people like ‘aayas’. They learn on the job, but remain a bit unreliable. In Pune, at least 8 per cent of the total population is above 60 years old and about 60 per cent of them need special care, which is very hard to find.”
Rohan Joshi, Project Director, Skill Development, BARTI, said: “The idea behind SCC is to provide non-medical assistance and help in everyday tasks and activities for aging people who are compelled to stay at their own home or prefer it that way to be able to remain independent. SCC can help with any service needed that is not medical related. It could include medication reminders or trips to the doctor, but is usually meant for help with routine activities in which aging citizens might need help.”
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Of the three months the course will take to complete, two will be dedicated to classroom teaching, while practical training will be given for nearly three weeks. The students will pursue another week of full-time internship with a Pune-based retirement community. “On successful completion of the course, trainees will be awarded BARTI’s Certificate in Senior Citizen Care. All successful trainees will get a chance to be interviewed for jobs at old-age homes, private homes or hospitals,” said Joshi.
He added: “Currently, we have 20 students pursuing the course. Seven of them are women. Almost all are above 30 and have been working as hospital staff doing cleaning jobs for a meagre salary. This course will ensure a better salary and improved standard of living.” Dignity Home Foundation, a Pune-based non-profit organisation, has partnered with BARTI by making nursing and medical apparatus available for students during the training. Athashree Homes Pvt Ltd, another city-based organisation that has developed a township in Pune for senior citizens, is collaborating with BARTI for the one-week internship of the trainees.
The All India Institute of Local Self Government, Pune has made the training infrastructure, such as classrooms and library as well as office space, available to BARTI for conducting theory and practical sessions, according to officials. Scheduled Caste youth from Maharashtra within the age group of 18 to 45 years are the core target group of the programme. The officials said the course would also be started in Nashik and Mumbai.