Senior citizens require a lot of love and attention during their twilight years but an increasingly demanding lifestyle sees their primary caregivers out of the house for a major part of the day. This is where Home and Community Care Ltd steps in.
In the fast-paced 21st-century metropolis that we call Dhaka, nuclear households are finding it more and more difficult to provide care and offer time to their elderly family members. In most cases, full time jobs require employees to stay away from home for extended periods of time; this means our elderly/retired population are often left to their own devices.
This is problematic and stressful for the working age population, who find themselves in a quagmire. If you are currently in a similar situation and you want your family members to be taken care of professionally, Home and Community Care Ltd (HCCL) might come in handy.
“It [HCCL] is a much-needed service in an underserved industry. Bobita, who served my grandmother, was an exceptional caregiver. It was her job to serve but to do so with such love, like that of a child or grandchild, that really warmed our hearts,” shared an anonymous client of HCCL, who availed their services for her grandmother.
HCCL is a technology-driven home care service provider and a social enterprise of the Sajida Foundation. Currently, HCCL has around 200 enlisted caregivers, of whom more than 100 are actively engaged, providing caregiving and nursing services regularly.
To date, HCCL has served more than 450 clients.
It helps you find and hire a caregiver or nurse based on the personality and requirements of the patient. Ranging from general caregiving to dementia focused care, HCCL takes a holistic approach, embracing a recovering adult into a “circle of care.”
From the urge of helping recuperating older adults at home, Zahida Fizza Kabir, the CEO of Sajida Foundation, started a caregiver services project in 2016, with only three to four nurses.
Back then, it was called “Elder Care” – which, with time, evolved to HCCL. The purpose behind HCCL is to address the gap in the healthcare system, especially for the elderly.
As of 2019, over 13 million people living in Bangladesh are aged over 60, which comprises 8 percent of the country’s total population, according to a report published by Ageing Asia.
The percentage of older people is expected to grow up to 21.9 percent in 2050, amounting to 36 million people aged over 60. This means that out of every five Bangladeshis, one will be a senior citizen.
An ageing population means higher demand for healthcare services. Older people suffer from both degenerative and infectious diseases due to the weakening of the body’s immune system.
As a result, their health condition is largely dependent on the care and attention they receive.
Moreover, according to the World Bank, for every 1,000 people in Bangladesh, there are just 0.8 hospital beds. Clearly, full recovery from a hospital is barely an option for us.
And as a result, there is a gap between treatment and recovery, which is filled to some extent by home nursing.
“We are not just any other caregiving platform that provides services in exchange for money. Our services speak volumes to our integrated goal, which is in all respects, aligned with Sajida Foundation [to serve the people with quality service],” said Tajwar Hoque, the COO of HCCL.
It is seen in many households that they tend to bring one of their distant relatives from the village, to look after the elderly family member in their absence. However, distant relatives, regardless of how well-intentioned, do not have prior experience or medical training. As a result, the concerns pertaining to the overall well-being of the said elderly family member may remain unaddressed.
This is where HCCL steps in, providing people with skillful caregivers.
How does it work?
“All our caregivers are trained, and our core clinical team has adequate expertise. The pandemic had brought a lot of challenges to holding physical training. But now we are back to bringing international trainers annually to train our clinical team and top caregivers, who in turn train the bigger pool of caregivers throughout the year,” added Hoque.
The service giving process initiates with a simple conversation. One can reach out to HCCL through their website or Facebook page and then a meeting is arranged.
“Every patient’s condition is different and they need specific care. Hence, all of our caregiving packages are entirely customised,” said Hoque.
After hearing from the clients, an in-house doctor of HCCL prepares an integrated and personalised care plan, and only after that, a designated caregiver is assigned.
This is when the app is introduced to both the caregiver and the client.
“In the conventional system, data entries in a patient chart are done manually. As a result, the family members can not track the patient’s updates unless they reach out to the caregiver,” said Hoque, “through our recently introduced app, family members can track real-time data, and our medical panel of senior consultants can also assess the whole process.”
The patients are divided into three categories, green, yellow and blue. Green being stable patients while red is critical.
“The job we do here is much more than a structured 9 to 5 job. The red labelled patients [who require more close monitoring] need 24 hours supervision which is ensured by my team. We are always there for them,” said Imran Khan, the Nursing Supervisor of HCCL.
Khan finds his job extremely gratifying. “Best are those jobs that serve the feebles,” he added.
Every day, HCCL’s in-home caregivers assist many elderlies with their everyday tasks, including bathing, dressing, feeding, and medication administration, while providing companionship that addresses their emotional needs as well.
Some caregivers also provide advanced levels of nursing at home for bedridden patients, who require post-operative care, hospice support, and special feeding pathways.
Charges for these services are calculated on a per-day basis, starting from Tk1,350 (General Caregiving) to Tk1,560 (Advanced Caregiving).
Besides, HCCL has an experienced pool of doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists. If you need any physical or remote doctor consultation, they can swiftly arrange those as well.
HCCL also provides oxygen support and home lab tests like X-Ray, ECG, and some particular pathology tests, partnering with third-party institutions.
However, since the services are expensive, only a niche part of the society happens to be HCCL’s client base, which is not lost on COO Hoque, who said, “we have launched a more affordable programme named Care Attendant last month with the hopes of serving more people.”
The new programme does not include all the facilities as general or advanced caregiving packages, however, it is still a step towards providing more affordable care.
“It is after all a social enterprise, and we plan to, eventually, bring all under our care,” said Hoque.