Kejriwal govt to review old age homes

Move comes after DCW notice; govt also to check homes for disabled, juveniles

Kejriwal govt to review old age homes

The Delhi government will now review its old age homes and take immediate action to redress the problems pointed out by the DCW. On Sunday, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) sent a notice to the Department of Social Welfare after visiting the state-run Bindapur old age home which is reeling under acute staff shortage for years now.

The government will also review homes for the disabled, women and juveniles now.
Department officials, however, said they were not ‘unaware’ of the shortcomings but will try to deliver on the areas highlighted by the DCW.

The Commission in its notice has pointed out the stretched capacity of the home, the lack of facilities for women with mental disabilities, poor sanitation conditions, substandard quality of food and staff crunch at the Bindapur old age home.

Currently, there are two old age homes in the city — one at Bindapur and another at Lampur which is run in collaboration with Delhi Brotherhood Society, an NGO.

“These are good suggestions pointed out by DCW. It is true that there is scope for improvement in several areas. There are both short-term and long-term problems. First, we will sort out the immediate problems of the inmates at the these homes.

“For example, making purchases like installing a water cooler which will improve the living conditions of people at the homes can be immediately done,” said Ashwani Kumar, secretary, Department of Social Welfare.

However, the most significant problem ailing the homes is acute shortage of staff. Several posts lie vacant even though the Bindapur old age home currently houses 74 inmates against the sanctioned strength of 50.

“According to one of the employees at the home, at least 30 per cent of the inmates suffer from mental health conditions. There is a lack of round-the-clock doctor, adequate number of caretakers and social welfare officer at the home.

“The gaps have been pointed out to the department several times. Even though a significant number of inmates suffer from mental health conditions, there is no dedicated counsellor at the home.

“The home is functioning under several limitations. The situation will improve only when the staff strength is boosted. This also includes having adequate nurses as elderly people constantly nursing,” said another employee.

Admitting that handling inmates with mental conditions is a ‘delicate area’, Kumar added, “It is important that there are counsellors who spend time with the inmates and that they do not feel lonely. However, with regard to the taste of food, it is not possible to guarantee changes as the food items are served as per diet chart.”  

“We are meeting heads of the institutions for a thorough review of the situations now,” said Kumar.  But fresh recruitments may take longer time so the department is looking at recruiting staff from NGOs for the time-being.

Ten more sites have been identified where old age homes will come up in the city.
The capacity at each home will vary between 50-100.

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