Medical emergencies and loneliness: How an eldercare company is fighting the two biggest problems faced by senior citizens

From bike-based first responders who are trained in first aid to organising sher-o-shayari and antakshari evenings, Emoha Eldercare is bringing a smile to their faces and keeping isolation at bay

Published: May 19, 2021 01:40:22 PM IST
Updated: May 19, 2021 01:52:18 PM IST

Saumyajit Roy, co-founder and CEO, Emoha Eldercare

For Gurugram-based numerologist and tarot card reader Pooja Vaid, Emoha Eldercare’s services could not have come at a better time. Her in-laws are Covid-19-positive and living in a separate condominium. “When it was taking days to get a CT scan done, with their intervention, my father-in-law could get it done in under five hours. The doctor on panel calls them twice a day to keep a tab on their oxygen levels, temperature and blood sugar levels,” she says. “All this not only helps them with emotional support but also their immediate families because we are not so medically equipped.”  

Medical emergencies and loneliness are the two biggest challenges in a senior citizen’s life, and the second wave of Covid-19 has only exacerbated these, says Saumyajit Roy, CEO and co-founder of Emoha Eldercare. 

It is with the idea of mitigating these two problems that Emoha was launched in 2019 to help every senior citizen live an independent and dignified life. “If you spell Emoha backwards, it reads ‘a home’. So with our services, our aim is to make them feel at home,” says Roy.

Emoha's first responder, usually an ex-defence personnel, is trained to attend to accidents, perform CPR and offer first-aid. They have helped save about 40 lives in the past three weeks

The company offers round-the-clock health care services at home, assistance with running errands, government, passport and visa paperwork, processing of pension, and home safety services to make the home age-friendly and better prepared to handle emergencies. All of the above are available in packages starting Rs1,000 a month for an individual. 

During the second wave, Emoha has helped 3,500 elders, all 55-plus, who form its membership base. However, it is their first-responders comprising ex-defence personnel and paramedics who are trained to attend to accidents, perform CPR and offer first-aid who have helped save about 40 lives in the past three weeks, 85 percent of which were Covid-19 cases. 

“Some elders’ children kept oxygen cylinders at home, but when the time came to use them, no one had a clue. We saw many emergency situations like these and it was our bike-based first responders who were able to reach in time and help those whose oxygen levels were tanking,” says Roy. “The past month has been tragic. While we lost many of our uncles and aunties, the ones we helped survive gave us a ray of hope to keep doing better.”  

Emoha’s workforce has increased from 150 to 200 members to help deal with the surge in calls related to Covid-19 emergencies. The members make multiple calls a day to elders to monitor their health, help them with various stages of the vaccination process, and arrange doctor visits when needed. “We have elders calling us, asking us to help them withdraw money, run errands because they not comfortable with online shopping and other bank and paperwork-related work. It’s our duty to stop this vulnerable age group from stepping out for these things,” says Roy. 

Emoha has set up a 60-bed Covid-19 care centre in the Golden Tulip Hotel Sector 29 in Gurugram for elders to recover and avail of oxygen concentrators, getting on-site clinical and nursing attention, and having their vitals constantly monitored

Emoha, along with Sarovar Hotels and Resorts and iamgurgaon, has also set up a 60-bed Covid-19 care centre in the Golden Tulip Hotel Sector 29 in Gurugram. Elders who need to recover from Covid-19 can do so at the centre apart from availing oxygen concentrators, getting on-site clinical and nursing attention, and having their vitals constantly monitored. 

Having dealt with responding to medical emergencies, Emoha’s next objective is to keep elders gainfully engaged. “If you talk to any elder today, you’ll realise their stress levels have gone up drastically. Not only are they worried about contracting Covid-19, but are also dealing with the loss of their siblings, partners and friends among their age group,” says Roy. 

Emoha’s virtual activities such as yoga and meditation, musical and cultural nights comprising sher-o-shayari and antaksahri, comedy and talk shows, literature discussions and book readings help them stay away from negativity 

Vaid’s in-laws have been “super engaged” since they availed of Emoha’s services. “Earlier, they used to sit idle, keep watching television and get irritated despite doing nothing. Now they start their mornings with yoga, engage in something informative in the afternoons, and have an entertainment session in the evenings. It’s so good that I also end up attending with them… now they don’t want to miss any sessions because there’s a routine in their life,” she says. 

When Roy recently conducted four sessions with elders on Covid-19, on how to take care of each other and what to be aware of, he noticed people were joking among themselves, having fun with each other and trying to keep their spirits high. “That’s the beauty of this community… it’s a group of people that shares love and automatically, loneliness and isolation get taken care of,” he says. 

In some cases, all that matters for seniors is being able to connect with their children abroad. “This is an unusual time… people have lost their partners, but neither can their children visit them nor can they go abroad so our ‘virtual daughters’ help senior parents keep in touch with their children on a daily basis,” says Roy. 

It’s these little joys and smiles on elders’ faces that hasn’t stopped the team from working harder each day despite 50 percent of its leadership, including Roy, having contracted Covid at some point.  

“I’ll be honest… we’ve gone mad. Many of our on-ground staff, nurses have also taken ill, but everyone has returned to work immediately post recovery. Everyone is working 15 to 18 hours a day, attending close to 200 calls on a daily basis… but we feel super-charged,” says Roy. “Helping elders with medical emergencies and loneliness was why the company was created and that’s why for us, right now, there’s no rest time, only war time.”

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