‘Not everybody can be a caregiver’

Alisha Shinde
Saturday, 28 March 2020

Prime Health Support, a care-giving proprietorship by Geeta Kumana, looks after the elderly who live alone in Mumbai as their children are abroad.

Old age can be tough, especially if you are living away from family. Frailty, chronic health problems, memory loss, and so on can make simple tasks difficult. Prime Health Support, a care-giving proprietorship by Geeta Kumana, looks after the elderly who live alone in Mumbai as their children are abroad.

Talking to Kumana, we find out more about what it takes to be a responsible caregiver.

Need experience

Talking about what inspired her to start Prime Health Support, Kumana says that some years ago, a friend living in the USA had asked for advice on ways to take care of her old and ailing parents who lived thousands of miles away from her in Mumbai. 

“Since I was already taking care of my aged father, who lived in Pune, I had a lot of experience in dealing with similar situations. So it was easy for me to help my friend’s parents,” says Kumana, adding, “But not everybody can be a ‘caregiver’.”

Kumana set up the organisation in 2017. “Initially, I was hesitant to charge for my services, but later, I realised that it is a much-needed service in Mumbai. Prime Health Support takes care of the mental and physical health of the aged and assists them in feeling better in their homes,” she explains.

She points out that most caregivers in the market are bureaus that supply nurses, attendants and ward boys to patients and their families. Prime Health Support operates differently.

“I personally visit my clients and talk to them. I also go to doctors, pathological laboratories, hospitals, and write down notes and send it by email or WhatsApp to the client’s families living abroad. It is a unique service that is much-needed in India,” says Kumana.

A fine balance

“Looking after vulnerable people is something that comes naturally to me; hence this is something I love doing,” says Kumana. It gives her great satisfaction to see that the elderly are taken care of in the right manner and that they are given due respect when doing so.

“I believe the most challenging part of being in this sector is not to get too attached to your client as this will do them a big disservice. Spending so much time with them tends to make you feel very close to them, and that can impair your judgement on their care-giving and in turn, their health. Hence, it is imperative to keep a distance when looking after your client,” she explains.

She also says that several old people don’t really have anyone to talk to, so very often, they speak to the caregiver. But, there are also those who do not want to talk to anyone and keep to themselves, and that needs to be respected.

Extending services

Kumana says that for now, Prime Health Support takes care of clients living between South Mumbai and Santacruz.

“Our plan is to extend our geographical services to all of Mumbai. Once we are successful with this, we plan to start our services in other cities, namely Pune, Goa, Bengaluru, and small towns as well,” she concludes.

What it takes to be a caregiver

A caregiver is someone who feels the need to look after frail, old, or ill people with a humanitarian eye — not a commercial one. The caregiver must look after people without making them dependent on them; the less a client needs the caregiver, the better for the client.

A caregiver is also someone who needs to take into consideration all opinions — the client’s, the relatives’ and even the client’s friends. Just because a caregiver has the experience, it does not mean s/he is correct at all times while giving advice. A caregiver should remember to give advice only when asked unless an urgent situation warrants it.

The ultimate goal of a caregiver is to make the client and relatives happy and de-stress them. The client’s family needs to have peace of mind knowing that their relative is in the able hands of a caregiver.

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