KOZHIKODE: The Kerala Development Report says the standards of even registered old age homes in the state are highly uneven.
How many old age homes are in the state exactly? How many inmates are there in these homes...? The state government has no clue!
On record, the state has 620 registered old age homes--the highest in the country—and these have more than 30,000 inmates. But sources confirm that there would be at least another 1,000 homes which come under non-registered and paid categories.
"There is no data or any protocol in running these unregistered old age homes. There are unpaid homes being run by charity groups/NGOs and paid ones. We receive serious complaints of cheating and financial misappropriation against paid homes. Many senior citizens give their entire savings or write the will in the names of the homes only to get cheated. There is zero government intervention in this sector," a social justice (SJ) department official said on condition of anonymity.
Nineteen per cent of the state’s current total population are above 60 years and the number is projected to reach 23 per cent in 2025, close to the present rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Even registered homes are in poor condition
The Kerala Development Report, published by the state planning board in February this year says the standards of even registered old age homes in Kerala are highly uneven. "Most of them are managed on custodial lines and take care of only the food and lodging of residents. It is important that such homes are modernized and made resident friendly," it says.
"We know nothing about unregistered homes. The process of admission, leaving, facilities, medical attention for the senior people, staff who attend to them etc are not known. There will be no surprise if any human trafficking or illegal kidney sale takes place in any home," said a department district officer in North Kerala.
Reacting to this, Jalaja K S, Joint Director of the department, said guidelines were issued in 2016 to include paid old age homes also under the supervision of the government. However, the process has not been completed. "Normally, we used to get information about the old age homes in the annual survey conducted by Anganwadi staff. But after the bifurcation of the department, the local bodies have the responsibility to do the same," she added.
Sources say after the bifurcation of the social justice department in 2019 into Women and Child Development (WCD) and Social Justice Departments, the latter has no working apparatus at the ground level which has affected its functioning badly.
Residents in registered old age homes
Present--30,000 plus (approximately)