New Delhi: A majority of old age homes in India do not have ambulances or readily available medical facilities for the elderly, a study evaluating old age homes and day care centres funded by the ministry of social justice and empowerment, revealed.
The ministry had appointed a consultancy, Research and Development Initiative Pvt. Ltd, to prepare the report, an evaluation study on Functioning of old age homes and day care centres. The ministry of social justice and empowerment supports programmes for the welfare of the elderly.
Financial assistance up to 90% of the project cost is provided to NGOs for establishing and maintaining old age homes and day care centres, which are supposed to provide food, shelter, care, and recreation facilities to the elderly.
“Keeping in mind the needs of the elderly, a designated vehicle or ambulance in case of emergency is essential for any old age home. Approximately 40% of old age homes did not have the provision of a designated vehicle. Certain medicines and equipment are prerequisites for elderly people. It was available in only 78.4% of old age homes and 64.1% of day care centres," the report added. “Equipment such as glucometer, BP apparatus, and weighing machine are a must at any institution for elders."
There should be provision for regular check-ups in old age, instead of the stress on medical attention on a “as and when required basis", it added. “It could be arranged by organizing medical camps, coordination with local primary health centres (PHCs) for monthly medical check-ups, regular eye check-ups and coordination with local hospitals for cataract surgery."
The study also found that power backup, which is essential for the functioning of such institutions, was available in only 60% of old age homes and 40% of day care centres. The residents also complained of problems faced because of power failures.
The report also said that a variety of food should be available for the elderly. “More than 70% centres reported that the grant received from the government is inadequate for the maintenance of manpower, meal facility, and recreational facilities. Apart from adequacy, the timely flow of the funds is also required for the sustainability of the centres."
“It is really disheartening that the elderly don’t have adequate facilities. So far, there are no standardization parameters for old age homes. Most of them do not have basic amenities. A designated vehicle is beyond comprehension. Mostly old age homes have a tie up in a sort of loose arrangement with some nearby hospital. There are no specified dos and don’ts even for nutrition, toilets, quality and quantity of food and other amenities," said Himanshu Rath, chairman, Agewell Foundation, a NGO working for the welfare and empowerment of older people.
For the evaluation, RDI covered 410 centres, including 268 old age homes and 142 day care centres, across India. The evaluators surveyed 2,948 beneficiaries. Nearly 45% of the respondents were in the age group of 60–69 years, followed by 70–79 (43.3%). Only 11.5% of the beneficiaries were in the age group 80 and above. More than half of the total respondents were women.
The main reason for people to opt for old age homes is the lack of financial support for self maintenance (30.6%), followed by adjustment problems with their families (20.2%).