How this senior care organisation is catering to the physical and mental health of the elderly living at home
When we live with an elderly person, we learn to recognise their likes, dislikes and their needs to aid them in their everyday routine.
Archana Gautam Sharma, an experienced IT professional, was caring for her elderly parents when she realised that like them, many elderly people preferred to live in familiar social environments with dignity and independence. Moreover, greater longevity has led to more elderly people living with chronic ailments, which requires long-term care and support.
“To help maintain the elder’s quality of life, it needs to be supported by adequate social and health infrastructure. What started as a social experiment, we have grown into a home healthcare service provider for elderly needs,” Archana tells SocialStory.
Founded in 2013 by Archana Sharma and Dr Jayashree Dasgupta, a renowned clinical psychologist from NIMHANS,consists of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, clinical psychologists, mental health specialists, social workers, and caregivers who provide holistic care for the elderly
Catering to the physical and mental health of seniors, Samvedna aims at providing best-in-class senior care services for the elderly to help them live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.
“Our vision is to create an elder inclusive society by providing compassionate professional care for all elderly needs,” Archana says, adding, “Currently, we are operational in Delhi/NCR, but our online mental health services are available pan India.”
Samvedna for the elderly
“Samvedna’s holistic, 360-degree care model is distinctly positioned, and our programmes cater to all elderly age groups. Our active ageing programmes help senior citizens maintain and enjoy a quality of life,” says Archana
Their initiatives include digital literacy, intellectual companionship, healthy ageing awareness drives, health screening camps, caregiver support groups, mental health talks, and training for caregivers and families.
The homecare programmes are designed for the elderly who live with chronic long-term ailments. They are provided with appropriate diagnostic support, medical review, and the team also guides the family and the patient by developing scientific evidence-based interventions and care plans.
In addition, they also have specialised dementia care programmes to delay the onset of dementia. Their mental health services include behavioural therapies and counselling services for older adults dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia, OCD, and other long-term mental health issues.
“Many of the elderly we support live alone, so we make regular home visits and also provide emergency support services to these clients,” says Archana.
Samvedna Senior Care was recognised as one of the ‘25 Best Social Enterprises’ as a part of ‘Yes I am the Change’ initiative by Yes Bank. It received an award of Rs 30 lakh from the Yes Foundation. But apart from this, Samvedna has been bootstrapped.
Today, Samvedna has a self-sustaining business model. The charges vary, depending on the type of services availed. An assessment or counselling session starts at Rs 2,000, and the eldercare packages range from Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000 per month.
The eldercare organisation says it has directly provided homecare services to more than 1,000 customers in Delhi/NCR region over the past seven years.
The community services have helped more than 5,000 individuals and senior citizens through various initiatives.
“We also provide services to individuals as well as communities. We work with communities like hospitals, RWAs, senior living communities, and clubs to provide services for their members and residents,” Archana adds on.
Pritika, one of the client’s daughter, says,
“The care specialist from Samvedna has built a relationship with my mother over the last year and has gone over and beyond to help her out in all kinds of small and big ways. I appreciate the attention and care he provides weekly – particularly when my mother is unwell and therefore, has a hard time accessing everyday things like getting medicine from the local market or filling out official forms.”
Another client, Mrs Das, inspired the team because despite her physical disabilities she would knit sweaters for slum kids. Her physical disabilities did not deter her from continuing to engage herself productively. Samvedna provided intellectual companionship and motivational counselling for her.
Her son, Asheem Rath, says “We have looked at numerous options where my mother can engage in social activities with people of her age group and look forward to something every morning. Samvedna Senior Care has been able to provide that missing 'look forward to' factor in our mom's daily routine.”
COVID-19 impact and other challenges
During the initial days of the nationwide lockdown, the home visits got impacted due to severe restrictions, but within a short span of time, Samvedna moved to an online model of support.
“We took care of all logistical and medication support required by the families. Additionally, we saw a surge in our tele-health services like doctor consultations and mental health support services,” notes Archana.
Samvedna was started on a seed capital of Rs 2 lakh, being one of the early entrants in the eldercare space. Archana says it was challenging to introduce eldercare as a business model as there was limited awareness and widespread denial of the need for such services.
“We were determined to overcome these challenges to fulfil the unmet needs of elderly and family caregivers. We started by setting up a flagship senior day centre in Delhi, a community space for the elderly. We also set up a qualified multidisciplinary team with expertise in eldercare and mental health, and have adopted a scientific evidence-based approach for care management,” she says.
The road ahead
According to NITI Aayog, by 2025, India’s share of the ageing population will rise to 6.4 percent. This trend is further going to see a rise. By 2050, the Institute of Labour Economics projects that India will have more than 300 million elderly people above 60 years of age.
Archana says, “Many elderly will be living alone or independently, and will require various services and community platforms to help them maintain a good quality of life and have access to good care. There will be an increased disease burden, with the elderly living with chronic ailments as well as requiring long-term care and a supportive environment.”
While there are a plethora of services being offered by multiple players, the reach and acceptance is still very low and comes at a cost.
Samvedna’s goal is to create awareness and offer eldercare service solutions that are not only superior but affordable at the same time.
“Over the next 12 months, we plan to ramp up our service delivery team and triple our existing customer base. We will remain focused on expanding our reach through our online medium, especially our mental health services,” Archana signs off.
Edited by Kanishk Singh