16 June, 2020

Responsive aid for the elderly

The Tata Trusts' Elder Spring Response System team has gained grateful appreciation from senior citizens for tackling problems that are far from normal

The Elder Spring Response System call centre at Hyderabad
The Elder Spring Response System call centre at Hyderabad
The Elder Spring Response System call centre at Hyderabad
The Elder Spring Response System call centre at Hyderabad

When the Tata Trusts’ Elder Spring Response System received a call from an elderly person one day, it seemed like business as usual. Only, this time, the case was a bit more serious. The senior citizen, calling from Sri Sai Nagar, Malkajgiri, Secunderabad, was at his wits’ end. He and his wife had rented a portion of their house in order to earn some additional income. However, a month after moving in, their tenant not only stopped paying rent, but began abusing the elderly couple.

When matters escalated, neighbours helped the elderly gentleman to meet the Commissioner at Rachakonda and file a written complaint against the tenant. The Commissioner was helpful – he forwarded the case to the local police station where the tenant and landlord were both called for a mediation. Despite this, the tenant continued to stay put for another three months.

The elderly person at the Commissioner’s office, Rachkonda
The elderly couple who found legal recourse at the RDO’s office, thanks to the Elder Spring Response Team.

It was at this juncture that the elderly man called the Elder Spring Response System. Upon hearing his woes, the Field Response Team took the elderly person to the local Revenue Divisional office, where they spoke to the Revenue Divisional Officer as well as the tahsildar. The complaint was registered and the Revenue Divisional Officer called both parties to attend a hearing. When the tenant did not turn up for the third consecutive hearing, the RDO ordered the police to get the house vacated and hand over the property back to the elderly landlord. With an official order against him, the tenant had no other option but to vacate the house.

This isn’t the only time that the Field Response Team has stepped in to help elderly people. In March 2020, the Field Response Team got a call from Mr. Ganapati, Nampally Police Station, about a person found lying on the AC Guards Road near Masab Tank. When the Field Response Officer arrived at the location, he realised that the elderly person, approximately 60 years old, was so physically weak that she could neither sit nor stand on her own. Starvation had rendered her unable to speak.

The Field Response Officer made arrangements to provide her with food and water and apprised the police of the situation. The decision was made to shift her to an old age home. Unfortunately, with the global pandemic, none of the old age homes that he approached were willing to admit new cases. The Field Response Officer persisted in his attempts and finally convinced Good Samaritans to accommodate the elder in their facility. By 7 p.m., the legalities were completed, and she was shifted to her new accommodation.

The elderly person, found nearly unconscious at the AC Guards Road near Masab Tank
The field response team helping a starving elder to move her to an old age home.

These are just a couple of examples of the cases that are handled by the Elder Spring Response System, which has received nearly 45,845 calls between April 2019 to March 2020. Of these, 8,791 calls have been served, and nearly 150 abandoned or homeless elderly persons have been supported. The Field Response Team has also intervened in cases of elder abuse (163 abused elderly persons), recovered missing elders, and arranged for elder care.

The efforts of the Elder Spring Response Team haven’t gone unnoticed. There are many grateful citizens who appreciate the team’s responses towards issues pertaining to the elderly. “This is to acknowledge the excellent support provided by Ms. Radhika and Ms. Shabana Banu who patiently heard me out, and provided all the information,” read one appreciative note received by the team, from a gentleman who had approached them looking for assistance in getting elder care for his aging sister and brother-in-law. “Kudos to the Tata Trusts and Team Elder Spring for their ongoing support for the care of the aged,” he added.