For home nurses, it’s a hard day’s work

Sangeetha Chengappa |Thomas Abraham | Updated on: Mar 13, 2018

Home healthcare in India remains a sector where caregivers are treated more as maids and man-servants. Nurses working out of patients’ homes do not have the institutional protection of their counterparts in hospitals.

Vasanta, 41, a home nurse for the last 18 years and a single mother of two boys, aged 26 and 22, says: “I started off with a salary of ₹3,000 a month for nursing and now earn ₹24,000 a month. All these years I got jobs through agencies who take a big cut of what the patient pays for nursing care and gives me the rest. For instance, in my last job with a senior citizen, the agency received ₹27,000 but they gave me only ₹18,000 in hand. Two years ago, I decided not to be associated with an agency as many of my previous patients’ relatives had started getting in touch with me, requesting me to take care of their near and dear ones. Now, my salary has increased as I go directly to patients through references of satisfied customers.”

Asked where she had received her nursing training from, she laughed and recalled her one-year stint at a big hospital where she worked side-by-side with all the nurse trainees and learnt the ropes. Now, she does suctioning and inserts catheters with ease, besides checking patients’ BP and blood sugar.

Vasanta is nursing an 85-year-old female patient in Bengaluru ( featured in pic ), who, however, does not need such critical care interventions.

“I was married off to a 33-year-old man when I was just a child at 13. If only I had the money to get myself formal education I would have been able to work in a big hospital,” she said.

Recalling many harrowing moments over the past few years, she says: “While I am there to look after every need of the patient all day and sometimes all night too, I had to leave my two sons to fend for themselves at home with only one day off a week when I could see them. What really saddens me is that when I am faced with a family emergency, I am not allowed to leave the patient’s side.”

In an industry where caregivers are poorly treated, what best practices are Indian healthcare providers adopting?

“A key challenge is to ensure that our staff are motivated to bring their best before customers who are at their most fragile and vulnerable state,” said Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO, Portea Medical.

The company has conducted workshops for over 2,000 nursing attendants in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and English.


Published on March 12, 2018
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