New Delhi: Old age homes and home care services for the elderly will soon receive star ratings similar to those given to hotel chains.

In a bid to make old age homes a viable option for senior citizens to live in, the ministry of social justice and empowerment is reviewing the infrastructure and facilities provided in retirement homes.

“We are going to make it mandatory for private old age homes to get themselves registered with us. There are several old age homes running in the country but we know only about those which are either run or funded by the government. We have observed that there are several old age homes that are in shambles and not working properly," said G Latha Krishna Rao, secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment. “Similarly, old age homes and home care services for elderly will be given a star rating like hotels because this will increase the quality and delivery of services."

The ministry will review the functioning and effectiveness of old age homes and day care centres including their geographical distribution to identify over-served and under-served areas. Responses of beneficiaries, doctors and functionaries at old age homes, day care centres and state government officials conducting inspections will also be taken into account.

The availability of furniture, toilets, electricity, drinking water, security and libraries, health and recreation facilities will be studied. The quality and adequacy of food served to the elderly will be assessed along with behaviour of the management.

“At present, there is no central legislation or executive order prescribing minimum standards for the services facilities to be made available in old age homes across sectors, either run by private, central or state governments and union territories. As a result, it has been observed that there are widespread disparities in the services offered and facilities available in various old age homes," said Thaawarchand Gehlot, minister for social justice and empowerment.

“It has been therefore considered desirable that certain standards be evolved and prescribed for the old age homes, touching all facets of their functioning from infrastructure to facilities to manpower etc. so that a senior citizens getting admitted to the home could legitimately expect a certain level of standardized service. Action for evolving the standards and method of its statutory prescription is underway," he said.

Around 360 old age homes are running under a scheme called integrated programme for older persons (IPOP) under the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

According to the ministry, beneficiaries under the programme in 2016-17 numbered about 150,000. There is no data on private old age homes in the country.

“The star rating concept is for rich who can afford that much money. The high rating old age homes that provide world class facilities to elderly demand anywhere Rs70,000 to Rs1.5 lakh from the elderly. The poor elderly who reside in the government run old age homes are at the receiving end. Most of the old age homes don’t have money to take good care of elderly while many are only on paper," said Himanshu Rath, chairman at Agewell Foundation, an NGO that works for the welfare and empowerment of elderly.

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