Succour that’s just a phone call away

Vayokshema call centre, launched to aid the elderly, has so far received 15,000 calls

October 06, 2020 09:41 pm | Updated January 10, 2022 10:53 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

More than 25 elderly who live alone in the district have asked to be rehabilitated.

This information has been gleaned through calls made and received at the Vayokshema call centre (ph: 0471 2778450) launched to ascertain and address the health problems and other needs of the elderly in the district. Details of three lakh elderly in the district were collected earlier in the pandemic by the government.

The call centre, attached to the district cell for the elderly, was launched a month ago. So far, nearly 15,000 calls have been made and received at the call centre, which is part of the Grand Care project of the Social Justice Department.

Sociology and psychology higher secondary teachers, anganwadi workers and supervisors, and volunteers handle the calls. Interventions are made with the support of the National Health Mission under the Health Department, Kerala Social Security Mission, Women and Child Development Department, Local Self-government Department, and the Kudumbashree, says District Social Justice Officer Gibson Raj.

Focus at present is on reaching out to the elderly who live alone in the district and have no one to look after them or face financial difficulties or other such problems. So far, more than 12,103 elderly who live alone have been contacted.

In one such case, an elderly man from Thirupuram who had no one to look after him developed an ulcer on his leg that then became infested with maggots. His health was assessed by a medical team and moved into the reverse quarantine centre for the elderly at Vallakkadavu where he is recovering. He is now set to be moved to an old-age home. Other such elderly may also be moved into such institutions.

If the elderly are in need of medical consultation, the call centre will arrange it through telemedicine as part of the eSanjeevani project. If medical attention, including for lifestyle disorders, is deemed necessary, then one of the eight teams deployed by the Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) as part of Vayomithram across the district visits them at home. Medicines are arranged through primary health centres. If there is no one to pick the medicines up, these are delivered to the doorstep through ASHA workers. Medicines not available through PHCs are delivered by the KSSM teams, says Mr. Raj.

The call centre is also paying attention to the mental health of the elderly who are alone. Psychological problems arising from the extended reverse quarantine period are addressed through telecounselling. More interventions may also be needed. One elderly man who would rip at his clothes and whose wife refused to take care of him too has been moved to the reverse quarantine centre. The department is now mulling what other steps can be taken.

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