Our readers respond

Maintain records

The Government should have taken this decision a long time ago. Maintaining a complete record of the home nurses deputed by the agencies is a must. Thrust should be given to identify every one of them individually. This will help a great deal in preventing cheating by both the parties concerned - the home nurses and those who seek their services.

Efforts should also be made to identify properly the agencies that depute the nurses. The authorities concerned should warn the agencies of the repercussions if they indulge in malpractices. Conducting programmes for home nurses to make them understand their work and its importance is essential.

Rakesh Kumar Thiruvananthapuram

Easy to keep tabs

The beneficiaries of home nursing services will not have to worry about the authenticity and the credibility of the service being provided if the home nurses are registered. Crimes committed by people registering themselves as home nurses will also come down.

The Government will be able to keep a tab on the number of such service providers and the quality of service provided by them. Any attempt to exploit the customer and vice-versa can be thwarted by laying down strict norms for operation. It will also prove useful if the Government decides to levy service tax on them at a later stage. It will help the authorities identify illegal agencies in operation by providing permits or licences to the registered ones.

K.N. Nair Thiruvananthapuram

Bring in legislation

Home nurses are emerging as an important segment of service providers in Kerala. A comprehensive legislation, covering all the aspects of the issue, is called for. In the proposed legislation, service conditions as well as minimum wages of home nurses should be spelt out, so that they can work for adequate wages and without being exploited.

Home nurses should have adequate training. They should be equipped to meet emergency situations. This can be ensured through a short-term course, available to all the aspirants at a nominal fee. Only those who have undergone this course should be allowed to work as home nurses.

Agencies that provide the service of home nurses should register themselves with the authorities and take responsibility for the people they recruit. Home nurses, whether they are recruited through an agency or work independently, must register themselves with the local authority whenever they start working with a new family. The registration process should be simple or people may be tempted to avoid registration and even dissuaded from seeking the service of a home nurse.

Renjan C Thiruvananthapuram

Regulatory bodies

Only the registered agencies for home nurses should be consulted. Licences should be issued to the recruiting agencies after all the norms and stipulations are met by them. The local police station or any other office should be earmarked as a nodal point for controlling these recruiting agencies. The controlling office should be selected in such a way that it has full knowledge and can access the area and the people who need the services of home nurses. Not more than two recruiting agencies in the area under the jurisdiction of one police station or controlling office should be permitted. There should be limits on the number of candidates recruited at a time. The credentials and details of all the candidates should be submitted to the authorities before they are allowed to work.

Minimum criteria to become a home nurse should be formulated. Training institutes teaching psychological and scientific approach in caring for patients should be set up. The quality of these institutes should be ensured. Activities of recruiting agencies that deal with projects at home and abroad should be closely observed.

S. Sreejesh Bhagavathinada

Empower nurses

Though registration of home nurses is welcome, it alone cannot prevent their harassment at the workplace. We need to look at how we can empower them so that they can deal with such problems on their own. Guidelines on how to effectively counter harassment should be imparted during their nursing training course.

Home nurses posted outside the State should be provided with mobile phones by their recruiting agency so that they can immediately report instances of harassment and seek help from the police.

The agency should maintain a regular line of communication with the home nurses by maintaining a round-the-clock hotline for the purpose. In the event of home nurses being posted outside the country, an observer preferably belonging to the same State should be appointed so that the nurses can contact him in cases of emergency or to seek assistance in contacting the police.

The practice of certain charitable institutions to conduct surprise visits at homes where their nurses are posted is commendable and can be very effective in dealing with the problems posed by them. However, this practice should be made mandatory for all institutions and private agencies.

P.H. Karthik Thiruvananthapuram

Identity cards

There is need to introduce regulations to protect the interest of the consumers and home nurses. The agency providing these services should be registered. They should keep proper records of the nurses and details. Every home nurse or domestic helper should have an identity card (ID). The work for the home nurses should be confined only to nursing and not household chores. Minimum wage, provision for food and other details should be specified.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram

Proper references

Registration, training and identity cards for home nurses are very essential as many people are cheated by unscrupulous home nurses. Verification of antecedents may prove to be costly and time-consuming but the organisations sponsoring home nurses should insist on certificates from two well-known persons of their locality. Since there are residents' associations everywhere in the city, they can play a crucial role in finding out the whereabouts of home nurses. The Government decisions to register them is welcome but home nurses should also formally report to the office-bearers of residents' associations and the police so that their identities can be verified before they are sent to various homes for work.

The people who employ them must also observe certain norms. They should be discreet about matters of money and other valuables and not entertain demands for frequent leave and financial help over and above their wages. People whom the nurses contact or talk to over the telephone must be watched. Sponsoring agencies should insist on at least two references and details of relatives who can be contacted in case of illness or hospitalisation. Proper training for nurses is very necessary before they are employed at various homes.

K.P. Karunakaran Nair Thiruvanan -thapuram

Licensing system

A licensing system should be provided to make the entire system transparent.

It will ensure that people appointed as home nurses are well trained and have the outlook needed to take care of the ailing.

The salary rates should be standardised. This will help avoid confrontations between the families employing the home nurses and the organisations concerned. The registration will improve the credibility of the home nurses and also safeguard their safety at the households they are employed.

Pradeep Gopan V Thiruvananthapuram

Institutional training

The Government should streamline the existing rules and laws to ensure tighter control over these agencies. The Government should also stipulate SSLC as the minimum qualification and insist on some institutional training to enter this service. The agencies too should ensure the quality of the personnel they recruits. Some organisations are rendering very valuable services in this field but external help will prove to be boon to this service.

Burney Sebastian Louis Thumba

Fix accountability

Nurses must be made accountable for losses/theft if they work independently but if they are sponsored by any institution/organisation, accountability must be fixed on them. Only those with clean records must be sponsored by the recruiting agencies. Nurses so appointed must be paid reasonable perks by the sponsors.

The sponsors must also check on the nurses appointed regarding their behaviour towards the aged and obtain remarks on their performance from people employing them.

T.V.R. Potti Thiruvananthapuram