Five years ago, the National Trust under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the “Sahyogi” scheme to “provide, promote, create and maintain a pool of caregivers for persons with disabilities”.

Under the scheme, caregivers were trained by specially-trained trainers and deployed with care-seekers. But with the scheme managing to train only about 2,000 caregivers across the country thus far — well short of the intended target considering the demand for such trained helps — a pilot project has now been launched in Delhi, under which leading registered organisations with good capacity in training have been selected to train 20 caregivers each.

The idea is that these registered organisations will work with each caregiver and allot them to specific care-seekers so that good deployment can take place during practical training, said Neeru Gautam, who is associated with the Sahyogi caregiver scheme.

The earlier scheme was implemented through Care Givers Cells (CGCs), established in selected non-government organisations such as Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI) and Saarthak in Delhi and a third party administrator (TPA), that is Sanjeevani India , which was engaged to coordinate and network with all CGCs across the country and maintain the online portal — www.sahyogi.org.

The 36 CGCs across the country trained 2,024 caregivers. The scheme envisaged a new and shorter training module — with 25 days of classroom training followed by a four-month paid internship.

All components of the scheme — training, networking and deployment of caregivers — were done by the CGCs. But due to a huge mismatch in the number of caregivers and care-seekers in different areas, the scheme failed to meet the requirements of care-seekers in Delhi.

Under the pilot project in the national Capital now, the master-trainer training of two course coordinators from selected registered organisations of Delhi has commenced at AADI in Hauz Khas from July 15. It will run up to July 27.

Neeru, who is differently-abled herself, said according to past experience, several problem areas needed tackling to develop a significant pool of caregivers. So, as part of the training, caregivers are also given a glimpse of the work at hand through animated films.

“In some cases like mine, where a person is suffering a high level of disability due to muscular dystrophy or spine disorder or any other progressive disease, the presence of a caregiver is required 24x7. Most caregivers want to go back home after a few hours and so very few take up this work outside their State,” she said.

Also, as the work requires helping care-seekers with daily activities — right from using the toilet, brushing their teeth or cleaning to things as simple as putting on their spectacles or holding the phone next to their ear — able-bodied caregivers in the 18-22 age group are preferred.

These days, many care-seekers encourage their caregivers to learn computers, driving and cooking to enhance their skills and retain them. It is an incentive to work at one place for long, but unfortunately for the care-seekers it lasts only till the caregiver quits.

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