HYDERABAD: With no specific guidelines set to follow in case of establishment and maintenance of old age homes, there is no mechanism in place now to assess whether the old age homes are functioning properly and have minimum standards.
According to officials of the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, Telangana and AP together have one-third of old age homes in the country. Hyderabad has about 200 of them.
Though the central government provides grant-in-aid to old age homes, there is no proper mechanism to track the number of old age homes and there are no guidelines to follow for establishing an old age home. As a result, senior citizens residing in some old age homes are facing problems.
“Right now there are more than 10 crore elderly people aged above 60 years in India. With increase in the longevity of life, their number is going to increase in future. There is need for more old age homes. Starting old age homes alone will not suffice but these homes have to provide a lively environment and living conditions for elders. But right now no minimum standards are laid down by the government to be followed by old age homes,” said Dr KR Gangadharan, Chairman of Heritage Foundation which is involved in taking care of the elderly. In the absence of guidelines, some inconsiderate and unscrupulous old age homes make life difficult for the inmates. According to experts working in the field of geriatric and elderly care, an old age home’s environs and interiors should be specially designed to suit the bodily requirements of elder people.
An old age home should have the floor and doors in such way as to allow free movement of the inmates. An alarm bell should be fixed next to the bed or chair so that they can call for help in case of emergency. Food has to be provided according to the requirements of the aged and medical help made available round the clock. These are some of the few basics which should be followed to make the life of elders better, but there is no mechanism at present to monitor whether the old age homes have the minimum standards.
Activists and organisations working in the field of elderly care across India came together in Hyderabad on Thursday at a seminar on ‘Institutional Care of Senior Citizens’ to assess the quality of service provided to residents of old age homes and to evolve a mechanism to ensure minimum standards in all old age homes.
“Though there are some guidelines to be followed before establishing an old age home, they need to be strengthened and we are working in that direction. To ensure that elders are treated properly, we are also taking action against erring homes. But it is state governments’ responsibility to monitor old age homes,” said Rakesh Kumar, a senior official of the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment.