— By Ravi Varma
How far you go in life, depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong… Because some day in life you will have been all of these – George Washington Carver (Scientist – 1864-1943)
After nearly two decades in the pharma industry, my early association with home healthcare, more specifically for those above the age of 65 years, proved to be a turning point in many ways. For starters, there was the realization that caregiving is not about care in itself… it is about compassion mixed with large scoops of sensitivity and topped up with dependability.
As I began to consciously move away from nudging medical professionals to use the brand of magic potions and pills that my previous company manufactured, the first jolt came to knock down some very basic sales concepts that we were taught during our induction into the multinational corporation. There was going to be no hard sell while offering home healthcare services!
Instead what we did was listen and do so with utmost patience to the travails of the person who required caregiver assistance as well as to those who were paying for it. There reasons for taking our services were seldom same and on occasions diametrically different. But, that’s a story for another occasion and another blog.
In an industry that is largely unregulated, under-skilled and often rather unethical, I realised that the Winage™ team would have to fight several battles before we could even hope to win the war – the war against isolation of the elderly in a society that often faces paucity of time to care for their seniors and occasionally doesn’t really care about the shortage of time.
After twenty-four months into my new business role, I can safely say that I’ve unlearnt several things and also learnt a few. Over the next few weeks, I intend sharing some of these with those who stumble upon this blog on our website or via social media. Let me kickstart with some key lessons that those providing care to the elderly must learn quickly if they hope to nurture old age instead of helping the elderly gently to their ultimate destiny.
- Every senior citizen who comes into our purview needs to be treated as a unique person because that is what they are. There cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to caregiving though this doesn’t mean that we do not create processes and system
- Catering to the needs of a senior citizen could be as time consuming as with primary school children. Both feel that they do not require attention and yet they do. Thus, forcing our attention could become counterproductive to the cause
- This brings us to the most important part of giving care – an elderly person could be facing very fragile levels of dignity, connected with their failing health, social status or both. A very deep level of sensitivity is required even when pitching for home healthcare services
- Caregiving isn’t about helping the aged whose cognitive and motor skills are on the decline. It is about being a confidant, someone who can make her smile. Someone whom she awaits for eagerly each morning so that she can spend the rest of the day in good spirits
- This brings us to the importance of being dependable. Both the senior citizen as well as their families would caregivers to be reliable and the service providers to be available on call because the aged can obviously become grumpy and their families grumpier
These are some of the immediate challenges that we set about resolving during our journey of the past two years.
- Do you have an elderly person at home in the near vicinity?
- Have you observed any of these traits?
- Or are there a few that you think would be good for us to know at Winage™?
(The author is heads Sales & Marketing at Winage™, a provider of trained and certified Geriatric Caregivers in India)