How this woman entrepreneur is providing a quality and homely environment for the elderly
Founded in 2012, Epoch Elder Care is currently present in Gurugram, Delhi, and Pune. Co-founder and CEO Neha Sinha hopes to soon raise funding and expand to Mumbai.
Wednesday July 08, 2020,
4 min Read
Neha Sinha is certain that she is living her dream, having been able to integrate her love of spending time with the elderly into a business that provides quality and homely environment for them, replete with necessary medical attention and assistance.
It was 2011 when Neha started to feel burnt out working as a clinical psychologist, treating people with chronic schizophrenia at Sanjivini Society for Mental Health. She and her now co-founder Kabir Chadha were bouncing off ideas to work on “something creative and relaxing”.
After Kabir suggested looking into the elder care services, the duo did a little research and learnt that there was a lack of specialised care service for the elderly. Thus, in 2012, they launched Epoch Elder Care, and there has been no looking back since.
It is also worth noting that the elderly population is expected to reach 300 million by 2050 in India and account for 18 percent of the country's population, according to CII–Senior Care Industry Report India 2018: Igniting Potential in Senior Care Services in India.
This has spawned a lucrative market with products and services catering to the ageing population — the global market for which is likely to be valued at $1,767 billion reflecting a CAGR of 8.4 percent by the end of 2025.
At the same time, Neha maintains that assisted living services are still a rarity in India.
Home away from home
Epoch Elder Care started as a homecare service for older people who have been diagnosed with neurological defects like dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Venturing into residential care in 2014, the company now provides assisted living services in three houses — Frida, Vermeer, and Monet House in Gurugram, Delhi, and Pune respectively — that have become home to more than 52 people. The oldest resident of Epoch Elder Care is 99 years old.
CEO and Co-founder Neha says that assisted living is different from old aged homes or other nursing centres, adding, “Our homes are located in residential neighbourhoods and we do not like to put up boards as institutionalising homes, which stereotypes them.”
In fact, she says that admission of an elderly person is a lengthy process, which involves learning minor details — their likes and dislikes, habits, preference of setting their rooms and where they like to place certain things. Epoch Elder Care visits their rooms of their to-be-residents at their homes and tries to replicate it.
In addition to the focussing on specialised care service, Neha says, the idea is to make their family members know that even a chronic condition can receive professional care in a home-like environment. Catering to those who are unable to do much on their own, the company has assigned around one caregiver for every resident.
For instance, the Frida House in Gurugram has 13 residents and 18 caregivers. “This is because a person diagnosed with Dementia tends to wander a lot during the day. Since their sense of safety and judgement is also affected, you cannot leave them alone because they may fall or harm themselves,” says Neha, who was featured among Forbes 30 under 30 in Asia in 2016.
The entrepreneur says that the three homes are run independently to provide daily assistance — nurses and counsellors, neurologists, physiotherapists, on-call doctors, care assistants, and food and beverage managers, security guards — around the clock.
Depending on single or double room occupancy, the fee ranges from Rs 1.2 to Rs 1.5 lakh per month.
More than 60 percent of the residents have families abroad, and Neha claims that a few of them insisted on living at Epoch rather than go for caregiving centres outside India.
The residents enjoy different schedules divided between newspaper reading, playing game of Ludo and carrom, painting, physical exercise, and outings once in two weeks or once a month. These are planned according to a person’s emotional and cognitive comprehensions.
Impact of COVID-19
As older people are more vulnerable and more at risk of developing severe illnesses due to coronavirus, the assisted living homes cancelled meeting sessions with outsiders, including family members, and has stopped outgoing activities for the time being while most indoor activities continue as usual.
Additionally, Neha says, staff members were requested to stay at the residential services because of the risks associated with COVID-19.
Bootstrapped for a year, Epoch Elder Care raised its first round of funding of $1 million from angel investors in 2013, and says the business also sustains on its profits. Neha hopes to raise another round of funding soon, and expand to Mumbai.
As much as stepping into a humane venture of caregiving involves many responsibilities, the entrepreneur says she is satisfied as long as it comes with the bonus of spending time with older people.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta