Smita, a retired government employee, has two children who have settled abroad and wants her to live with them. Although the widowed senior citizen wishes to live in her motherland, she cannot live alone due to her medical conditions.
Many retired urban seniors like Smita aspire to live by themselves, but their children are unwilling to allow that either due to limitations of old age or lack of adequate care. But one initiative is finding ways to enable senior citizens to live independent and social lives.
Founded in 2016 by Ashish Gupta, Gaurav Aggarwal, Anuradha Das Mathur, and Sanjay Ahuja, Samarth aims to bring peace of mind for India’s elders and their children.
The startup provides professional support to help the elderly live independently. In times of epidemics, his pre-planned execution helped his members with necessities, despite the lockdown.
In a conversation with BusinessKhabar, Samarth’s co-founder, Ashish Gupta talked about how they are changing the face of elders in the country.
Need peace of mind
Ashish Gupta told BusinessKhabar,
“This idea came to us ten years ago when we realized how busy we are in our lives, and our old parents need an ecosystem of support to help them live independently.”
After speaking with friends and family of the same age and on a similar stage in his life, he realized that the issue had become more inevitable in many families.
Children’s busy schedules make it almost impossible for older parents to keep up with them. Therefore, many people like to live by themselves but are overcome with their freedom due to problems related to their health and age.
“We came to know that peace of mind is something that two generations in the family needed – parents who wanted to live independently, and their children who are worried,” he explains, “even retired parents Wanted to live a more active life and enjoy his retirement. “
Samarth claims to have created the largest community of urban elderly in India. Members can use a card from their paid membership that provides them with benefits such as healthcare, activities such as physically and mentally engaging them as well as making them feel it. The community has around 40,000 members in 110 cities of the country.
“According to our research, parents cherish their independence as much as possible, and consider going to the old age home as their last resort. So our main goal is to help them continue independently at home.”
According to the team, the most effective way to communicate is WhatsApp. However, prior to the epidemic, groups had local meetings, RWA meetings and senior citizens’ meetings at least once a month. The team helps organize trips for them across India and even abroad. They also have an online portal where the elderly can apply for jobs, and where they can work as consultants.
The organization provides high quality care in their homes to elders, whose families are unable to care for them. Services include emergency, health care, facility needs, home security, companionship, active support and engagement.
Samarth has a local care manager in each city, who acts as his own ‘child’ to the elderly who provide medical aid, and lives with them. About 99 percent of their workforce consists of women who have left their nine-to-five jobs for the cause.
So far the company is self-funded, and has raised additional funds from family and friends.
“We’ve developed a technique using AI to assess the health of our members, like the Wellness Index. We’ve also seen developing tools to help children take care of their parents, because everyone A support service is not required. That is why we will seek an investment. “
Messiah made for many people in epidemic
Says Ashish, “The pandemic greatly affected our work. We saw it in February and started talking about our plans. I am very happy to say that when the lockdown was announced, All the members under our care were stocked with food and medicines for the following week. “
However, the team faced a challenge in reassuring members as the news of the elderly being at high risk spread widely. “Previously normal check-up calls ran for about two to three minutes, now calls last an average of 20 minutes,” he said.
Isolation, combined with fear of being in a high-risk group, creates a fear among members. However, Samarth had ensured that essential services such as home delivery of medicines, essential kits and groceries were arranged – a service that is still ongoing.
“In the last three months, we have added customers at double the speed in the last few months, because usually the children were unable to go home to their parents,” says Ashish.
The team also started a free COVID-19 helpline for any elderly person in the country and has been running for the last three months. With this, he has assisted around 2,000 individuals in 30–40 cities across the country, in addition to his own community.
Like Samarth, startups like EMOHA have also been helping the elderly in India. Their technology-driven community-based response mechanism is helping elders in Gurugram, whether they are part of their paid customer community or not.
Talking about future plans, Ashish concluded,
“With the impact of the epidemic, we are now seeing a significant increase in case of need. We are now working to expand technology to help find a way to care for our parents without any additional support.” Huh.”