The nature of community-based interventions and the multi-dimensional approach is the basic foundation to the success of the project.
In the pre implementation stage activities were meticulously planned and executed in order to understand the needs of the elderly in the project area as well as to understand the general community perceptions about the elderly in the households. The activities in the pre implementation stage included Initial visit of the target location and Identification of households with elderly population; Socio-Health-Economic Profiling of the beneficiaries and Social Mapping of the location. During this stage the team interacted with senior citizen leaders, political and religious leaders and explain them the purpose of the visit and the nature of work of HelpAge India and in the process mobilized their support which helped the project team in better penetration to the community. The team also identified likeminded people and potential community volunteers who helped the team in various community level interventions. The major outcome of this phase was that the team was able to collect all vital statistics which was later used as baseline data in our Health MIS software. This exercise was extremely useful for the understanding of the project staff for making constructive decisions regarding project initiation in the village, in particular to community-based healthcare activities.
The primary objective of the programme is “health and wellbeing of the elderly and the community they live in to promote healthy ageing.
Hence the MMU is designed to provide Primary Healthcare services.
Free treatment: The doctor would physically examine patients & based on the available equipment’s clinically diagnose patients and prescribe medicines. Wherever required, the patients would be referred to pathological laboratories for detailed investigation /secondary/tertiary health care service providers for specialist treatment /care
Free medicines: The MMU stocks medicine for all common ailments including Hypertension, Diabetes, Arthritis, etc. These medicines would be issued to the patients free of cost by the Pharmacist on the basis of the Doctor’s prescription. The Pharmacist would also explain the dosage of medicines and their side effects, if any to the patients.
Basic Diagnostics:The MMU van is equipped with basic diagnostic equipments such as Stethoscope, BP Apparatus, thermometer, weighing machine etc for checking the vital signs. In addition to this there is a ‘glucometerfor blood sugar testing. This was introduced due to the high incidence of diabetes which has been identified as one of the four most prevalent Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), so that patients suspected to be suffering from Diabetes & also those who have Diabetes are regularly examined and advised on management of the disease.
Home visits by Doctor (in case of bedridden patients): The doctor and the paramedic team conducts weekly visits the houses of bedridden elders who otherwise cannot approach or be brought to the vehicle. They examine & clinically diagnoses the problems presented by the elder patient or caregivers and prescribes medicines and advices the patient and their caregivers.
Counseling for patients, elders, family members and caretakers: the counselor and the doctor provide necessary advice and counseling to patients and caretakers on various ailments and home care. The project team also conducts regular counseling sessions on various aspects for healthy ageing i.e. (a) diet and nutrition; (c) weight reduction; (b) regular exercise; (d) smoking; (e) alcohol; (f) social activities. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, the risk of a whole range of diseases can be reduced.
Community awareness on the rights of the elderly: Every person has the right to freedom and respect and the right to be treated fairly by others. A person's rights do not diminish when he or she becomes old, regardless of his or her physical or mental ability to exercise or fully appreciate his or her rights. A positive, supportive and caring attitude by family, friends, caretakers and the community will help people to continue as integral, respected and valued members of society. Creating awareness in the community especially among the younger generation will help to sensitize them on the various aspects of taking care of the aged and in long term will also help them in preparing for their old age. Other value added services include Referral services / facilities viz.
Referral linkage with local health providers:The team promotes initiate linkages with private as well as government health care facilities so as to ensure that the required services would be available on demand. The linkage between the HelpAge beneficiaries and these identified institutions would ensure accessibility and affordability of the services.
Linkage with Govt. schemes/ programmes: This initiative aims to increase awareness among the elderly poor about various social security, food security and habitat security schemes, and thus enabling them to advocate/ demand their rights. We realize that elderly people need support to avail these schemes. HelpAge would play a facilitating role in linking them with the local and district administration and also collecting the information from the government offices and disseminating this information to the concerned/ eligible beneficiaries thus improving their access to social welfare schemes
Though the treatment to people below 60 years is not being denied in case of emergencies, it is positively reinforced to the community that our intervention is restricted to the senior population. However, as a guideline, HelpAge India also ensures that at least 50% beneficiaries belong to economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society.