There are 20,000 jobs available for elderly care in India. But, work conditions and quality of talent are areas of concern.
Glance through any Tamil magazine and you would find the first few pages filled with colourful ads of senior citizens' residencies. Among those, a majority of them mention the vacancy of 'child-like' caretakers for the residents of these properties.
The biggest pull here is that the salaries for the jobs advertised are upwards of Rs 60,000 a month.
The 2011 Census said that India had 104 million people aged 60 years and above. It is estimated to touch 170 million in five years. With this comes the new job opportunities in the elderly care space.
An absence of specialised training courses in this space means that the quality of talent is questionable and an inadequate number of people available in the space.
While the ads portray a very glamorous life for the senior citizens in these 'second innings' homes priced upwards of Rs 35 lakh, it is far from reality. They are immensely short-staffed and medical care is practically non-existent. But for youngsters, there is ample job opportunity available.
One such property is in Tamil Nadu at Garden Nest, which has advertised elderly care jobs with a monthly salary of Rs 1.3 lakh. This job involves running errands for the resident apart from overseeing their activities, providing companionship, and assisting them with their daily routine.
Another one promises flight tickets to visit home-town and spa vouchers apart from Rs 9 lakh per annum for individuals with no work experience. But one criteria is common among all of them, 'treat them like your own parent'.
However, human resource consultants said that it is a tough task to hire people for these roles. Unlike the US and parts of Europe, where elderly care is a popular job role and individuals undergo thorough training and certification, India is a nascent market.
Background verification of individuals is also rare in India. This puts the residents at risk of possible crimes including theft and murder. Europe, on the other hand, maintains an online registry and all incidents like manhandling, negligence and theft. Those involved in serious crimes are blacklisted.
While the salary could be a lure, the long work hours and lack of paid leave due to supply-demand gap have led to most positions being vacant. At least 20,000 such jobs are said to be available across the country.At a time when home-care facilities are getting popular in India, it is crucial that elderly care also is taken up as a serious profession. Better sensitisation about the career prospects and suitable educational programmes to meet the rising demand is the need of the hour.