Bhubaneswar: Taking note of the vulnerability of the elderly to COVID-19, the Odisha government has issued an advisory for this section during the second wave of the pandemic.
The advisory issued by the Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons With Disabilities (SSEPD) has asked collectors to focus on the wellbeing of inmates of old age homes run by NGOs in their respective districts.
On their part, the NGOs too have implemented their own measures and restrictions to keep the elderly inmates safe.
“We don’t allow outsiders to enter the old-age home now. Even our staff, who take care of the elderly people, don’t go out,” said Hochiminh Sastri, founder-owner of Asha Kiran old-age home in Jatni.
“The staff always wear masks and ask the elderly people about their needs. They always try to talk with hem by maintaining a distance of six feet. We are trying to take utmost care of our inmates,” Sastri added.
“Besides, we sanitize the premises twice a day. During the first phase of the pandemic last year, no one here had tested COVID positive.
“Some days ago, I was suffering from cold and fever. So I stopped visiting the old-age home and stayed in quarantine in another place for some days,” he said.
The Asha Kiran old-age home now has 60 members.
“We have some staff who go to the market to bring rations and vegetables. However, they are not allowed to enter the rooms of the elderly people here,” he said.
“Some people were coming to the old-age home to celebrate their birthdays. We were getting such calls before this lockdown. But now I don’t allow such activities here,” said Hochiminh.
“We also ensure proper social distancing and maintain two feet of distance between the beds of the inamtes,” he added.
Besides, this NGO distributes food to needy people in Jatni area. “We have also stocked some oxygen cylinders for needy people. However, we have not yet received any call for oxygen cylinder,” said Hochiminh.
“We are also making arrangements to get the inmates vaccinated. We had written a letter to the CDMO in this regard and a medical officer visited the old-age home on Wednesday. They will be vaccinated soon,” he said.
Notably, Hochiminh has been running the NGO Asha Kiran for the past 26 years, which is situated near Jatni police station.
Another old-age home at Balia in Balasore, ‘Kapila Muni Budhhashram’, is also taking utmost care of its inmates.
“This NGO was inaugurated on April 15, 2021. As we are new, we have only 10 members, who don’t have any family member to take care of them,” said the old-age home founder, founder Balaram Sethi.
“We maintain proper social distancing among ourselves in the old-age home. Nobody is allowed into the home,” he said.
“Besides, we are very strict about the use of masks. Only our staff are allowed to go into the rooms of the elderly inmates and take care of them. A pharmacist visits the home to provide the necessary medicines to the inmates,” he added.
“As we have few inmates, I personally took them to the vaccine centre in a phase-wise manner. All of them are now vaccinated,” said Balaram.
Balaram was working in the District Education Office. After his retirement in 2019, he started working in an NGO at Chandbali.
Later, he thought of opening an old age home of his own. This is how Kapila Muni Budhhashram came into being.