Under Naya Haryana, social development would not be complete without including senior citizens who were responsible for laying the foundation of Haryana as we know it today.
The citizens of Haryana have traditionally followed simple lifestyles accompanied by healthy food habits. As a result, it is not uncommon to see people live for above 90 years, while some even live beyond 100. Given this long life span, it becomes the responsibility of society to take care of the senior citizens in their old age.
At present, Haryana has not given due attention to the needs of senior citizens and there is a lack of suitable infrastructure to cater to their special needs in old age. There are senior citizens from well-to-do families whose members are unable to take care of them and then there are old people who are poor, destitute, and abandoned by their families. Senior citizens from both groups need shelter with special care and attention.
Under Naya Haryana, it is proposed to give due attention to understanding the needs of senior citizens and then building specially designed modern old age homes across Haryana, where they can spend their last years with dignity. Senior citizens cannot be classified under one group, as the needs of a senior citizen between 65-75 years is different from someone within 75-85 years, while anyone above 85 will require the highest level of attention and care. Therefore, careful thought has to be given while planning these modern old age homes.
It is planned to involve subject experts like doctors, physiotherapists, dieticians, psychiatrists and architects to suggest the best possible design and services that can be offered to the senior citizens.
Any facility that provides personalised services will be expensive, and these old age homes will also come at a cost. It is therefore important to carefully plan a sustainable model that is affordable without compromising the special needs of these senior citizens.
It is therefore proposed that the most effective way to structure these modern old age homes will be to include the private sector to operate and manage services in these homes. Most government schemes suffer due to lack of maintenance and professional management and not so much due to lack of funding. Therefore, the government will focus on land acquisition and subsequent construction, while the operational aspect of managing these homes must be left to the private sector that can also include established companies, NGOs, civil society members, etc.
If some homes are established as model homes, there will be several people from even well-to-do families who will come forward and pay to get the senior members in their families to stay in these homes. These payments can go towards subsidising costs of the poorer senior citizens. It requires a balanced approach to plan a home to cater to both the destitute and the well-to-do senior citizens, given the gap in social status in our society. It is possible to provide two-tier services to both segments under the same roof.
It must be noted that members of society will come forward to contribute by way of cash or voluntary services in running these homes, once they see serious intent from the government and the quality of comprehensive care and attention given to senior citizens.
The Naya Haryana vision for these modern old age homes is that each home will provide carefully planned services that will be personalised for each resident. Each home will have an in-house medical team of doctors, physiotherapists, dieticians who will monitor the health of each resident. Each home will have an in-house ambulance on 24-hour stand-by, and in case of any medical emergency, will be able to take the patient to the nearest pre-designated hospital, without any delay. To generate income for managing the home, these medical services may also be extended to local citizens of the area.
At the time of admission, each resident will undergo a medical evaluation of his or her present health condition, and thereafter, his or her medical record will be monitored and recorded. A carefully planned daily routine will be designed for each individual that will include a special diet plan for the day, exercise that will include meditation, yoga and walking. The rest of the day will be planned to keep each resident occupied based on his or her interest and will include prayers & singing bhajans, hobbies like painting, sculpture or writing, light indoor games like carom, cards, ludo, etc.
Each home will house a library-cum-reading room where residents will be encouraged to read. There will be an anteroom where residents can gather and discuss issues of their choice. The homes will encourage the use of solar power to reduce dependency on the electricity grid. Similarly, water harvesting techniques will be adopted to maximise the management of water.
As an extension of services, these old age homes can also act as centres for local training and development. A lot of skills can be imparted based on interest, aptitude and ability to local citizens residing in the vicinity of the home. If planned carefully, a business model could be developed, so that the income generated from this activity could go towards subsidising the costs incurred in managing these homes. This will help in maintaining the high quality of care and services at a low and affordable cost.
Naya Haryana takes its senior citizens seriously and therefore, setting up of these modern old age homes is not seen as a mere project but a responsibility of the government to recognise the contributions of its senior citizens.