[COVID Warriors] Meet the eldercare startup working to help senior citizens with every essential service

Chennai-based eldercare startup Alserv caters to the needs of senior citizens who live alone in the difficult times of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on many challenges, especially for the elderly, who are susceptible to the virus due to various age-related reasons.

With children staying in other cities for work or education and not able to reach them physically due to the nationwide lockdown, it became difficult for many senior citizens to get the essential support they needed amid the difficult circumstances.

At a time like this, many individuals and organisations stepped up to help them. Among them was Alserv — a Chennai-headquartered eldercare startup that supports senior citizens living alone in their homes.

Atul Jagdish, Jagadish Ramamoorthy, and Saravanan Adiseshan, Co-founders, Alserv

Started in January 2020, the startup is an assisted living services platform for seniors and their daily convenience.

“From a business perspective, the COVID-19 situation enforced the advantage of having an Alserv subscription. In fact, we provided a free subscription for our services for a month during the lockdown in the interest of elders,” Jagdish Ramamurthy, Co-founder and Director, Alserv, tells SocialStory.

While the lockdown posed a challenge for Alserv, it didn’t stop the startup from continuing its work, considering the challenges the demographic was facing on its own — especially the comorbidities that come with age.

“We knew that elders and their families needed us more than ever. We made sure that our services never stopped and essential services were delivered on time. Even if a member of the family had tested positive for COVID-19, we provided food delivery services with strict adherence to safety protocols,” Jagdish says.

Relief for COVID-19-positive patients

Since April 2021, Alserv started two new dedicated services — Alserv Care and Alserv Safe At-Home — to help COVID-positive senior citizens and their families.

The Alserv Care programme, which starts at Rs 300 per month, helps deliver meals, groceries, medicine, services of nurses and caretakers, online doctor consultations, provides oxygen support and other medical equipment to the elderly upon request. It also helps with maids and home maintenance professionals, 24/7 emergency services, and concierge services. 

“Senior citizens can choose from the variety of choices available for home-cooked meals to be delivered at their residences. We are delivering these meals through verified service providers, who maintain the highest quality and hygiene standards. For people living alone, Alserv is facilitating the services of nurses and caretakers who can stay at home with the elderly and take care of their needs,” Jagadish explains.

Alserv Prime has been extended to families as well (representational image: Alserv)

Under the Alserv Safe At-Home initiative, it provides professional deep-cleaning, disinfection, and sanitisation services for the post-COVID isolation period to ensure the home is safe after people have quarantined

Apart from senior citizens, the startup is also trying to reach out to the younger demographic through its Alserv Prime initiative, which provides services similar to the Alserv Care programme.

“Now, families in Chennai feel that they always have someone to rely on for their needs, no matter wherever they are. Even NRIs, who have elders or family members in the city, know that Alserv is always there for their loved ones,” Jagdish says.

The startup operates a subscription and a pay-per-use model, charging Rs 1,000 per month per family to access all services. 

In fact, customers can also pay only for the availed services.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Alserv claims to have helped over 500 families, and calls are "increasing daily", owing to its tie-ups with trusted service providers across Chennai. 

The team

During the pandemic, Alserv focused on reaching out to the elderly proactively.

“For home care services, we have tied up with certified vendors. For groceries and meals, we have partnered with wholesalers and an array of home food providers,” Jagdish says.

The startup has a dedicated team that works 24/7 to help anyone who needs their services. As part of its medical services, it has a panel of certified doctors for video consultations; they also do home visits for non-COVID patients.

A specialised call centre with a dedicated relationship manager for each Alserv member is also available. These managers ensure they provide highly personalised services, and each order is safe. 

“We are part of various COVID-19 helpdesks of companies in the city and have tied up with multiple hospitals. This makes services easily accessible. Our tie-ups in the pre-COVID times ensured that we had a wide network of vendors that helped us plan our services for those in need,” Jagdish shares.

He adds, “As an aggregator, Alserv ensures the quality of work and the timely delivery of the service. Moreover, being an aggregator has also helped us bring down the costs.”

According to Jagdish, the startup also faced many challenges, including providing nurses and caretakers to its members due to the travel restrictions during the lockdown, and procuring oxygen cylinders.

The road ahead

Jagdish says that Chennai has been the pilot market for Alserv, and it has been fairly successful.

He says, “Although the pandemic has slowed down our plans marginally, we serviced our clients throughout the pandemic without any problems. The plan is to expand our presence across India and provide home care services in other cities too.”

“The key for Alserv is to set up the delivery network in each of the cities, and then deploy the technology and acquire customers. We aim to expand operations in the southern cities, most likely in Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” Jagdish says.

Edited by Suman Singh