With nations across the world imposing travel restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, non-resident Indians are turning towards elderly care providers to support their aged parents in India.
“In the last four days, we have been handling at least 10 calls everyday from those living in the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, and unable to visit India,” said Prashanth Reddy, founder of Hyderabad-based Anvayaa Kin Care.
About 70 per cent of Anvayaa's members are parents of NRIs. It provides a plethora of personalised services to senior citizens including health care assistance (medical check ups and doctor appointments), daily care (food delivery and transportation), emergency care assistance, payment care (utility bill payments) and leisure care services such as picnic and wellness activities.
“The children are asking us about the measures we are taking to ensure the safety of their parents. So, we are sending them regular email and WhatsApp updates,” Reddy said.
On March 13, the Centre suspended all tourist and student visas as well as visa-free entry of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card-holders till April 15. On Monday, the government also prohibited entry of passengers from European Union, European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the UK, to combat the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Anvayaa has laid out a set of precautionary measures and procedures for its care managers. “You can’t avoid visiting them (elders) because you need to check on them regularly. We have issued a procedure that our care managers should follow in each of their visit.”
Not just parents of NRIs, even other elderly in India are turning more risk-averse as the possibility of contracting the virus and the mortality rate is high among the elders.
“We are receiving many calls from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and NCR. Earlier, senior citizens in these areas used to visit nearby hospitals by themselves, but now are asking for nursing services at home,” said Ashok Pal, Operations Head at Eldercare India, a New Delhi-based company which promises one-stop solution for elderly care and assisted living.
Founded by United News of India (UNI) news agency chairman Vishwas Tripathi, Eldercare appoints Indian armed force veterans as Care Buddies (caretakers) for senior citizens. The company charges a basic fee of ₹3,250 for class B and ₹5,250 for class A Cities. It offers healthcare, legal, finance and property services, and has customised services for NRIs.
“We currently have 20-25 elderly clients whose children are living in Australia, the US, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Canada,” Pal said, adding that the company is in the process of developing an app to make its services more accessible.
With a strong presence in North India, Eldercare will soon foray into Visakhapatnam. It is already present in Hyderabad and Bengaluru in the South.
New entrants like Chennai-based Alserv also see huge potential in the elderly care segment. Founded by Allsec Group promoters Jagadish Ramamoorthy and Saravanan Adiseshan, the company provides assisted living solutions for senior citizens by leveraging the power of technology.
“We believe that we are best-suited for this situation, though it is an unfortunate one. But we also believe that we will see a lot of demand in the coming days because our services are not just for unique situations but for day-to-day living of elders,” said Ramamoorthy, founder and Director.
Under a flexible subscription model, Alserv allows senior citizens to choose a range of services under medical and emergency, food and catering, safety and security, home maintenance, and concierge categories. Customers are also allowed to customise service requests on a pay-per-service model, with the option of selecting a single service or a combination of services.
“We are offering free subscription for the next one month. So people can subscribe and utilise our services by paying only for the services they use,” Ramamoorthy added.