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 are 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 includes 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 interacts with senior citizen leaders, political and religious leaders to explain the purpose of the visit and the nature of work of HelpAge India. In the process mobilize their support to assist the project team for better penetration within the community. The team also identifies likeminded people and potential community volunteers who facilitate the team in various community level interventions. The major outcome of this phase of the project is the team is able to collect all vital statistics later used in the baseline data and Health MIS software. This activity is extremely crucial to the project staff to take constructive decisions regarding project initiation in the village, and in particular to community-based healthcare activities.
The primary objective of the program is “health and well-being of the elderly” and to promote healthy ageing.
Hence the MHU is designed to provide Primary Healthcare services for the elderly viz.
Free treatment: The doctor physically examines the patients & based on the clinical equipments diagnose patients and prescribe medicines. Wherever required, the patients would be referred to pathological laboratories for detailed investigation or to secondary/tertiary health care service providers for specialist treatment /care
- Free medicines: The MHU stocks medicine for all common ailments including Hypertension, Diabetes, Arthritis, etc. These medicines are issued to the patients free of cost by the Pharmacist on the basis of the Doctor’s prescription. The Pharmacist also explain the dosage of medicines and their side effects, if any, to the patients.
- Basic Diagnostics: The MHU 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 ‘glucometer’ for 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 of 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 linkages with private as well as government health care facilities to ensure that the required services would be available on demand. The linkages between the HelpAge beneficiaries and these identified institutions would ensure accessibility and affordability of the services.
- Linkage with Govt. schemes and program: This initiative aims to increase awareness among the elderly poor about various social security, food security and housing security schemes, and thus enabling them to advocate/ demand their rights. We realize that elderly people need support to avail these schemes. HelpAge India plays facilitating role in linking them with the local and district administration. And also collect information from government offices to disseminate 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 focused 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.