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SENIOR CARE: POST COVID ERA CHALLENGES

Association of Senior Living in India (ASLI) unveils standards and accreditation matrix for senior care across India… A special report by Sujith Narayanan

Mr. Mansoor Dalal, founder, ASLI (Association of Senior Living in India): With an ever-increasing ageing population and the increasing trend of nuclear families, there is an emergent need to develop commercially viable and professionally manageable retirement housing communities.

India’s elderly population is set to touch 194 million in 2031. That is a 41 percent increase from 138 million in 2021. A recent National Statistical Office report says that Kerala sits on top of the table with the highest elderly population of 16.5 percent.

This report also points to the need for our society to adapt to properly accommodate this population structure shift. Visionary steps are imperative to ensure that senior citizens are cared for and accommodated in the prime of their lives.

Senior living communities are much sought after for the sheer value it brings and the active and productive lifestyle focus that comes with it. However, today we do not have senior living communities to cater to even two percent of the growing senior population. In the aftermath of a global pandemic outbreak, the lack of emergency response infrastructure and adequate support systems for the elderly has become all the more evident. In this context, the demand and need for senior living spaces have multiplied.

These spaces come with assisted living benefits such as on-property medical care and domestic support making it clear as to why the demand has come to a paramount high. Beyond the care and support, the advantages of social life, community connections are the other key elements that drive the demand for senior living communities. It has immense potential as it enjoys only a minute share in the real estate market.

As society continues to evolve, senior living communities are now largely perceived as a need and a blessing. Moving away from obsolete taboos attached to ‘old age homes’ are being discarded as the noble concept of ‘retirement living’ now takes precedence as a vital stage of one’s life.

The virtue of service sets apart senior living homes from other real estate establishments. Beyond plain sailing professionalism, compassion and a heart to care need to be the motive that drives the functioning of these communities. Round-the-clock care and assistance must take centre stage when it comes to caring for the elderly. However, as real estate players begin to test the waters on the possibilities of senior living communities, these service-centred values need to be safeguarded. Without having an objective check to maintain these values, it will only be a matter of time till they stop being mere lofty advertisements. This is where standardisation becomes crucial.

With strong links across the Commonwealth, Standards Wise International leads the way in establishing global standards and quality compliance, developing standards for the senior living, home care, ageing, and health and disability sectors. These standards enable providers of all sizes to self-regulate and continually stimulate improvements in the resident experience, safety, quality, design and practice. Standards Wise International currently operates in India, Australia and the UK through organisations like Commonage and the Global Ageing Network.

ASLI is the only pan-India association of senior living and care providers, with more than 80 per cent of all senior living communities in India as its members. Standards Wise International was invited by ASLI in 2020 to provide a set of standards to help the industry self-regulate.

Mr Mansoor Dalal, founder of ASLI (Association of Senior Living in India) shares this same vision. “With an ever-increasing ageing population and the increasing trend of nuclear families, there is an emergent need to develop commercially viable and professionally manageable retirement housing communities”, says Mr Dalal.

Mr. Mansoor Dalal, founder, ASLI (Association of Senior Living in India)

ASLI is the only pan-India association of senior living and care providers, with more than 80 per cent of all senior living communities in India as its members. Standards Wise International was invited by ASLI in 2020 to provide a set of standards to help the industry self-regulate. This led to the creation of new standards and an accreditation programme tailor-fit for Indian communities.

The certificate carries the endorsement of ASLI, Standards Wise International India (SWII) and CommonAge. It will be issued after the validation and assessing of various criteria and quality standards, giving customers greater reassurance about the quality of the services.

The standards have various levels in their hierarchy and comprise multiple quality standards based on management and personnel, design and construction, facilities, community engagement, technology, hygiene and infection prevention and many such factors. The introduction of standards and accreditation will increase India’s focus on senior care, proving to be a catalyst in the advancement of the silver economy.

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