Every human being needs care and attention from the womb to the tomb. Usually, we have many external agencies to support for infant care but the scene transforms completely when it comes to the care of elderly and people suffering from diseases or needing post surgery care.
Today, the trend of nuclear family is spreading all over the place and with both partners working the elder member of the family is dependent on servants or has to manage alone. This is where the good samaritarian in the form of Shushrusha steps in as a ray of hope to both the elders as well as the working couple who are not able to give their parents time and attention.
Shushrusha, a 14 year old organisation in Bhubaneswar has been providing home nursing services since 2003. It was started with a dedicated vision to provide home nursing services to the people of Odisha as well as provide livelihood support to the rural women coming from the under privileged section of the society. Shushrusha, trains and strengthens their capacity to provide geriatic care. In today’s era the trend of nuclear families has raised the growing need of geriatric care.
Shedding more light on the training procedure Mrs Swarna Mishra, founder member and Secretary said, “we train in batches and include a maximum of 40 trainees in each batch. The training is for 2 months and in the last fourteen years we have trained 30 batches as per the curriculum designed and conceived by reputed and experienced doctors, dieticians, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers as well as behavioural science experts. The training includes giving bed-pan, sponging, nasal feed, maintaining the medicine schedule, checking the Blood Pressure etc. The girls are trained to prepare diet and prescribed food like soups, dalia upma, khichadi, vegetable stew etc. for the patients. Basic Physiotherapy and massage techniques are also a part of our 2 month training program.”
Shushrusha has a good track record, they have rendered services to about 3783 people with a long waiting list requiring home nursing services. Presently, Shushrusha concentrates only in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri. Spelling out the reasons for this Mrs. Mishra shared, “We have trainees from all over the state training with us and ask for employment in their area, but it’s a very delicate issue and we cannot send our girls to a house without proper verification. If we appoint staff to do this, we have to trust their judgement and we cannot afford that risk as safety of our girls is top priority. This is the major problem which prevents us from expansion of our services.”
Mrs. Mishra further added, “we verify and scrutinise every house before deputing our girls. We check for any young members or staff members which can be a threat to our girls. Many people do not really like the girls using their washroom, which is fine, but we have strict rules that our girls will use the washrooms in the same living space. Our girls have our emergency numbers and they can contact us 24×7.We have clearly instructed our girls to report any untoward incidence or any kind of problem immediately. It feels nice that in our long innings of 14 years we have hardly faced such incidents and that keeps our spirit positive and us marching ahead.”
Shushrusha has been able to get its training programs sponsored from reputed organisations like Paradeep Phosphates ltd, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Tech Mahindra Foundation,SC&ST Dept. Government of Odisha and other government departments. Besides, the donations from life and annual members have been a great help.
Speaking on the challenges Mrs Swarna Mishra said, “Retention of our girls is the biggest challenge, since they return home to get married. Moreover, the different government training schemes that are introduced are with stipend which becomes a challenge for our training programs. Plus it becomes difficult to convince the girls to join this job because it can be demanding sometimes. There is a huge demand for home nursing services and we have a long queue of patients who need them.”
Sharing the future plans of Shushrusha, Mrs. Mishra revealed, “we are planning to start a reading room and a library for senior citizens. Plans for a yoga and fitness facility for ladies are in the pipeline. An innovative and novel initiative of a daycare centre for senior citizens is being envisaged. In majority of big towns the elderly, even though able bodied are alone at home feeling low and lonely. To tackle this predicament Shushrusha is planning to start a day care facility with basic facilities and reasonable rates, where the working couples can leave the elderly with us and pick them up on their way from work. The senior citizens will feel happy to be among their peers and the children can concentrate on work without worry. We are also planning a pick up and drop facility if we get a sponsorer for a vehicle.”
Caring for our third generation is equally important and with dedicated organisations like Shushrusha, it’s become easier to do so. Do not hesitate to reach out when you need somebody you can trust.
By Aditi Panda