Caregiver Services – A growing need – A large scale business and employment opportunity

Caregiver Services – A growing need – A large scale business and employment opportunity

Dinesh Narayanan

Management Consultant and Coach, Vasutti Services

@dineshn248

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150 million additional elderly aged 65+, between today and 2030.

This number seems astronomical, but true; and here are some examples of what the scenario is changing to.

Some typical situations with the elderly

An elderly couple and their three daughters and sons in law have been living together for 25 years. The couple have been experiencing all their grandchildren growing up and getting settled. Someone within the family is always available when one of them is in need of anything or ill. They go through each year happy and engaged within themselves and their extending families, their neighbors and every one they meet in society. This elderly couple live with a community of their immediate family and this confidence is extended when they meet anyone in society.

 Another elderly couple live on their own. They get support from their caregiver. Their friends help out and the extended family visit them often. They go through life with their children being away, so spend a lot of time within themselves. They have their moments of fun when their children and grandchildren visit them, but that’s not very often. They cope with life through their own companionship and time spent with old friends and visitors. As old friends pass away, they become lonely and sometimes moody.

 In a third case, an elderly lady lives all by herself with maids visiting her twice a day for cooking and cleaning. She yearns to see her children and grand children but makes do with the company of her neighbours.

In many other cases, parents move cities, along with their children, as they get old. However, many, specially those whose children live in the US or other western countries, prefer to remain back in India and manage on their own. Even within India, the scenario is changing rapidly, with parents refusing to move to the city where the children live.

 In the cases where the elderly are living on their own, issues arise when any one of them has a sudden health emergency. Managing the situation, taking the patient to the hospital, waiting for the children to arrive and take over, are some of the typically tense moments we see so often.

Even on normal days, gradually as health and energy deteriorate, the ability to handle daily chores itself is a huge issue.

End of the Joint family era

With jobs and businesses taking people away from homes, the traditional system of joint families is over. As mentioned, parents, as they get older, are not liking to relocate with their children; they prefer, instead, to settle in the city and home where they spent time in their 50s and 60s or where they have their friends or other relatives of similar age.

The children are caught up by circumstances; yet, keep balancing their time between their jobs, their own children and their parents. Some are able to take decisions which enable them manage all commitments conveniently; many others are not able to, for various reasons. The net result is that many spend time shuttling between their new home towns and where their parents are settled.

Till the age of 75 or 80, the parents may be active and able to manage things on their own. But after that the energy levels drop; illnesses take over. Yet, the parents refuse to move closer to their children.

What then is the solution in such cases?

Caregiver Services – a socially relevant business opportunity

The Caregiver services – providing 24×7 support to the elderly, is slowly picking up and will soon become a large industry. There are already a number of caregiver services offered by established entities; and quite a few smaller establishments mushrooming.

In the Western world, the care giver services is an industry as it has evolved over years. It is also backed by government support, as there is a norm that children move out of their homes early and therefore, adults, as they age, end up living on their own and move to old age homes.

In India, since there is no social security, typically individuals fend for themselves or their children take care. Either way, with the break down of the joint family system to nuclear families, the elderly tend to be on their own, barring exceptions mentioned above.

Most elderly prefer to stay in their own homes rather than shift to old age homes, even if available in the same areas.

Professionally managed caregiver services

Given the scope and number of people getting into that bracket and also thanks to life expectancy going up with better healthcare, the need for domestic caregiver services for the elderly will only go up. The key role is that of one efficient person available at home, either 24 hours or part time.

There is a significant opportunity for new, professional organisations to step in and create a business model for caregiver services. While there are a few across the country run professionally, most caregiver services are small proprietorship businesses, that may not be scalable.

Some of the important requirements for a well structured business could be

  • A strong value based management culture and a business that’s run as a social enterprise, with strong empathy and care for the client.
  • Caregivers who are well trained nurses, male and female, with sufficient experience at hospitals. This ensures that the person has the right knowledge, confidence and the right attitude to manage every situation.
  • The business must have the ability to retain these caregivers and have adequate numbers such that each one is given frequent breaks and kept motivated.
  • Supervising and Training systems to ensure the caregivers are delivering the right quality of service and are getting frequent knowledge updates.
  • In house counsellors to handle psychological issues faced by the caregivers as well as the elderly customers.
  • A 24×7 helpline for emergency support to the customer.
  • Ambulances and associated staff to move patients to hospitals in an emergency.
  • A strong connect with hospitals in the area helps in the caregiver service being a bridge between the patient and the hospital.

 Expectations from a Caregiver

Some key behavioral expectations from the caregiver would be –

Patience – A caregiver must possess a lot of patience and understanding  while dealing with elders. This could be to the extent of  patience needed while dealing with a child.

Empathy – The individual must have the ability to understand and empathise with what the elderly person is going through. It could be emotional, psychological or physical. All of these aspects call for different abilities to relate.

Compassion – A caregiver must be naturally compassionate, kind and have the ability to make the elderly feel comfortable at all times.

Attentiveness – He/She must pay attention to detail, in the environment and the individual he/she is taking care of.

Happiness quotient – An individual who has a happy disposition will spread happiness to the customer too.

Reliability – Punctuality and reliability are critical. He/she must remember at all times that the elderly are depending on them, so absence can cause anxiety to the individual.

Responsibility – A caregiver must feel responsible for the elderly. This will happen if they extend themselves to feel beyond the job.

Trustworthiness – A caregiver will have access to belongings and information of the person they are taking care of. The individual therefore must be trustworthy and respect confidentiality.

In a populous country like India, such organisations can spread happiness to the elderly on one hand, while promoting employment, positive values and attitudes amongst the young.

Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

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Asha S VellammRais murtazaGary SinghDr Meenu Sareen Recent comment authors
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Sundararaman N
Sundararaman N

Hi Dinesh. You have given the true picture of what is happening with elders. There is a huge vacuum in this space for service. It has to be regulated though as there are undesirable elements in the society who will look to exploit the elderly people. A crying need for the society. Very good thought process Dinesh 👍🏼

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thanks Sundar.

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Hema Gandikota

After infancy old age is perhaps the most vulnerable stage of life. This could perhaps be categorised as between 60 to 90 + years. Care giving services are undoubtedly the need of the hour for the elderly who cannot manage on their own . But I would also like to draw your attention to the lower end of the spectrum ..(60to 80 years).These are people who may be physically ok but are gradually going downhill mentally due to lack of meaning in their lives (in the absence of a joint family system and children being far away or unconcerned or… Read more »

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Dinesh Natayanan

This is an excellent thought and good to know of Pega Teach at Hyderabad. There are number of opportunities to engage the elderly as you rightly mentioned and derive significant value from their experience and knowledge. The Pega Teach model would be a win win for the elder and the institute.

Arun Prakash Prasanna
Arun Prakash Prasanna

Dinesh
You have the captured the current state of senior care management well. As you have mentioned, challenge continues, and question remains given the change in the demographics, how fast can we build the ecosystem to meet that need… well said let us know how we can help…

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thanks Arun. There is plenty of scope to work in this area and we need to make a beginning. Surely will let you know

Rajiv Soni
Rajiv Soni

My Dad 91 now lives with me, a person who has been single for several years. My entire lifestyle has changed, and, when i think rationally, for the better. Caregiving brings in discipline in your own life! I think its very important that we look after our parents…i wont go into the reasons bec i think there is no need to.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Agree with you Rajiv

Dr Meenu Sareen
Dr Meenu Sareen

This is the need of the hour. The author has touched upon a topic that causes anxiety to all of us. Thank you.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thank you Dr Meenu.

Rais murtaza
Rais murtaza

Yupp , agree that indeed there is a scope for large-scale business. But i think importantly, it is the passion and not the material lure that can decide your chance to make or mar in this field.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Completely agree with you Rais. As I have said it requires a strong value based management culture and a business that’s run as a social enterprise, with strong empathy and care for the client. The organisations/entrepreneurs doing so must naturally be compassionate.

Siddharth
Siddharth

Hi Dinesh, thanks to bring reality to perspective , and in today’s fast moving change over in society it’s all the more impaortant parents should be ready to be independent again after years !

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thanks Siddarth

Shamasunder Arcot
Shamasunder Arcot

Beautifully captured the needs and requirements of the Senior citizens 👍👌

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thanks Shyam.

Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan

Hi Dinesh…. very nicely written but perhaps we need to add what we can do ….or if you are planning to start something, how can we help?….. these thoughts are in everyone’s minds… but what made you put it down? Is there an action plan you have?

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Dinesh Natayanan

Hi Aparna, its been on my mind for awhile. Once I stabilize my current venture would like to pursue this area as a priority.

Babalusha
Babalusha

A very real situation that more and more families are coming to terms with and perhaps grappling with how to deal with today.
There is an urgent need to step up the professionally managed caregiver services.

Today, especially in India, caregivers most often end up being family members, and while there are several expectations from this caregiver, a good support system for the caregiver is also required, as it can be physically, emotionally and psychologically draining.

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Dinesh Natayanan

I agree Babalusha. That is where the organisations need to have the right approach in taking care of these employees. The Caregiver needs a lot more support and those working with them and availing their services must be compassionate towards them. Its not a job, but truly a service.

Ranjit Kumar
Ranjit Kumar

The need for such Organizations has become imperative with the mortality rate going up and also children moving out from their parent’s house because of them having to shift based as per their career requirement. Old age is a sensitive phase; elderly people need care and comfort to lead a healthy life without worries and anxiety. Lack of awareness regarding the changing behavioral patterns in elderly people at home leads to abuse of them by their kin.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Very true Ranjit.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Its about taking responsibility Ranjit. Elderly care is also tough as they do become child like and therefore need compassion and love.

Srini Govindan
Srini Govindan

The culture has changed immensely due to the onward march of the modern world. With the joys and pressures of the society we live in, the demands will not lessen on the children of the elderly hence caregiver services will become and is a necessity.

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Dinesh Natayanan

It is and organisations providing services need to be mindful of the tremendous responsibility they have to the elderly and the caregiver.

Rahul Menon
Rahul Menon

Very good insight Dinesh. The need is obvious due to high migration of the young workplace to meet job expectations. The bigger challenge is to identify & train the Caregiver partners to provide quality services that are required. Personal behavioral qualities that you mention are hard to come by!!!

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Dinesh Natayanan

The organisations that take up such a responsibility need to be mindful of the responsibility. I first came across the service in Melbourne where my family friends there were running it. The caregiver gets paid well and its also well supported by the Government. We have still to to evolve, but there are companies providing reasonably good services. Professionally run, with the right service orientation of the Management should be able to get it right.

Gary Singh
Gary Singh

Dinesh, nicely written. I can totally relate to this as my mom is not doing good health wise.

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Dinesh Natayanan

Thanks Gary. It is a tough phase for all of us.

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Ameet MATTOO

Awesome article Dinesh. You have not only captured the social reality but also the business opportunity available. What i am most impressed is that this Business opportunity is in fact a Social Entreprise which will do good not just to the elderly but also to the caregivers and looking at the scale, it will do good even to the Nation with citizens who have right values and behavioura engrained in them. My only worry is the enormity of the task at hand. And as you rightly said, we need big enterprises (maybe like TATA), who can run a value based… Read more »

Asha S Vella
Asha S Vella

Sir. Very well captured. We are living the situation and can totally relate to it. If we all can put in a little bit of time and effort towards the current situation it is sure to yield positive results. Request you to kindly let us know if we can play any kind of role to support this great endeavour which might one day lead to massive change in the systems.

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