Abdul Latheef Naha

The block panchayat’s project has had a remarkable impact on the care of the aged as it covers more than 100 homes and more than 500 beneficiaries.

MALAPPURAM: The Tirurangadi block panchayat has won acclaim for its efforts in consistently caring for the aged.

The Geriatric Home Care Project implemented by the block has been adjudged the ‘best health scheme for senior citizens offered by a civic body in the country.’ The Union Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment has chosen Tirurangadi for its ‘Vayojana Sreshta Samman.’

The project

The project launched in 2006-07 by the block panchayat could make a remarkable impact on the care of the aged as it covered more than 100 homes and more than 500 beneficiaries across 146 wards. Apart from civic administrators, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, health workers and voluntary activists were involved in the implementation of the scheme.

The project ensured geriatric care at homes and hospitals alike. Water beds, walkers, stretchers and medicines were provided to the aged. Bystanders were imparted special training. A special, out-patient wing was set up exclusively for geriatric patients at the Government Taluk Hospital, Tirurangadi, as part of the project. Block panchayat president M.A. Khader says the civic body spent Rs.3 lakh in 2006-07 and Rs.6.5 lakh in 2007-08.

As much as Rs.4 lakh has been kept aside for geriatric care in the current fiscal, he says. Patients were given special vacation care during holidays at the hospital. A physiotherapy unit with special emphasis on geriatric care will start functioning at the taluk hospital from Wednesday, according to Mr. Khader.

Tele-counselling

Tele-counselling for geriatric patients and their kin was introduced on World Geriatric Day on October 1. Any help for the aged is currently a buzz away. The geriatric tele-counselling centre functioning at the taluk hospital can be reached at 0494- 329 1035.

The services of the counsellor at the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC), popularly known as ‘Jyothis,’ can also be utilised. The counsellor can be reached over phone on all working days between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Dr. M.K. Sribiju, medical convener of the project, says Tirurangadi is the first village in the country to introduce geriatric tele-counselling.

The block panchayat will introduce ‘Respite Care’ as the next phase of the project. It will be aimed at easing the pressure of bystanders. “The project will target at educating bystanders about proper geriatric care,” says Dr. Sribiju.

A dementia clinic is also on the cards, Dr. Sribiju says. Special attention will be given to geriatric patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. The block panchayat introduced the geriatric care project by taking a cue from the message of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the elderly should be viewed as active citizens.

As projected by the WHO, the ageing of the global population is one of the biggest challenges facing the world now.

According to a study by the Kerala Statistical Institute, about 25 per cent of the population will be elderly by 2025. “The State is not prepared to deal with it. We need to get ready,” says Dr. Sribiju. The Tirurangadi block panchayat had won the State government’s Swaraj Trophy in 2006 and also the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Development Foundation Award.

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