CHENNAI: Striving to create a framework for old age homes in Tamil Nadu, a workshop was conducted by the Heritage Foundation recently to gather the needs of seniors and get recommendations from several government-funded old age homes in the State. The workshop pointed to four major criteria that old age homes need to focus on.
“These are physical amenities, services, staff and activities for the aged,” lists Ram Gambhir, anthropologist and professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University, who has been researching standards for homes. “We need to figure out the wants from the needs,” he said, addressing stakeholders, explaining that one home may have different needs from the other, but a common list of needs should be identified to set a bench-mark.
Physical needs included everything from wheelchairs and ramps to furniture. Services included security, medical facilities and an emergency doctor on call. The minimum number of staff and caretakers is needed at each home, and training them to handle senior citizens and their problems is crucial. Finally, the activities discussion included everything from recreation facilities like TV and radio to open grounds, garden areas and so on.
Currently, the major reasons for old age home residents being admitted there are abandonment, lack of money and ill health. Over 23 government-aided old age homes were present at the workshop to give their recommendations. R Gangadharan, director of Heritage Medical Care, explains how this discussion is only at a nascent stage, as there is no concrete framework for old age homes anywhere in the country.
“There are nearly 500 in the city, and nearly 3,000 in the State but most are not registered, and are home-run. Some are run by trusts but only the trusts are registered, while their old age homes are not,” he says, explaining that this pulls them out of the ambit of regulation. The recommendations received from those running these homes would be taken to the State government and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, to help frame a common policy which can help them get streamlined funding and meet standards.