Atul Jagadish, VP-Operations, Alserv, Health News, ET HealthWorld

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More seniors want to live independently on their own: Atul Jagadish, VP-Operations, AlservShahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Atul Jagadish, VP-Operations, Alserv, Chennai, to know more about the market trends and challenges associated with senior care.

How do you see the market evolving in eldercare?

According to a study published in Lancet journal, life expectancy in India has risen from 59.6 years in 1990 to 70.8 years in 2019. For the current 40 million elderly population, there are only about 10,000 – 12,000 houses built in the country for the senior living communities. As a consequence, we find that there is a huge gap in the number of people wanting to move to a senior living community. For every 1 person who takes the decision to move to a community there are 20 more seniors who are not able to take the decision for multiple reasons, but still need help.

One of the primary challenges seniors may face is the cost of purchasing or renting a house in a retirement community, with an all-inclusive service plan. However, the decision can be daunting even if they can actually afford the cost. With respect to food, seniors may have to eat in a common cafeteria, or be delivered pre-cooked food from a common kitchen. On the other hand, if they live independently in their own home, they can set their own rules and eat anything they desire.

In terms of leisure activities too, seniors living in the city tend to have like-minded friends with whom they go shopping or to events. However, if they move into a community that is typically located in the city’s outskirts, they find it logistically difficult to travel around. Consequently, they are forced to create a new routine around the limited amenities available, and mostly become bound to their individual rooms or apartments.

Lastly, there is a big social stigma, which is still very prevalent in India, towards moving into a community. This is evident in the fact that even today we have less than 20000 home units operational for a population of India with 40 million urban seniors and twice as many rural seniors.

What are some of the trends in eldercare?
According to a study by CII, in India, there are about 40 million people in Urban India over the age of 62 and this number is growing steadily. By 2025, India’s 60+ population will be over 175 million. The key trends of senior assisted living services in India includes a shift in preference as more seniors want to live independently on their own or in a community; lack of senior care specialization in India, since senior retirement communities are largely managed by real-estate developers. In developed countries, however, retirement communities are run by senior care providers; difficulty in accessing medical facilities for those seniors living in retirement communities, since most of them in the country are located outside the city. Even though communities have some basic medical help, out-patient hospital treatment processes become extremely tedious and challenging and finally, a continuous rise in-demand in the number of seniors who need in-home assisted living services in Chennai compared to those who want to stay in senior residential spaces.

What made you think of Alserv? What are some of the salient features of Alserv and how do they differ from others?

Alserv is an assisted living platform which is made for seniors to help them live independently, in their own houses, with all the comforts of a senior living community and all the features available in city life.

Alserv started its operations in January 2020. We saw a gap in the number of elderly people wanting all the services and not wanting to move into a community for various reasons. The platform is a bridge for them to get all the help and support in the comfort of their own homes. Alserv’s services are divided into five categories.

First is Safety and Security, where we provide consultation and installation of various safety products such as grab bars, bathroom fittings, stair lifts, bed railings, etc. or gadgets such as health monitors and smart glasses, and even security products such as camera systems and alarm systems, all of which ensure that seniors are safe and secure in their homes.
In the second category of Food & Catering, we offer meals that can be entirely customized based on the seniors’ health requirements and tastes. The third category is Healthcare and Medical services. Any service that can be performed outside the confines of a hospital can be provided by Alserv in the comfort of the seniors’ houses. Within the fourth category of Housekeeping & Maintenance services, we help them with maids for daily cleaning or deep cleaning needs, periodic maintenance, etc. The fifth category of Concierge Services includes logistics, travel, and accompaniment services. We can help seniors with an attendant who will be able to assist them and take them to the hospital, a bank, or even a friends’ house.

The platform functions on a subscription cum pay-per-use model where we charge customers INR 1000 per month per family, as a subscription fee to access all the services. Apart from this, there is no fixed monthly cost for services, and customers pay only for those services they have availed. This is in contrast to a community where seniors have to pay a fixed monthly cost, irrespective of what service they use or don’t use.

Future plans
Chennai has been the pilot market for Alserv, and it has been fairly successful. Even though the pandemic has slowed down our plans marginally, we operated and serviced our clients throughout the pandemic without any problems. The plan is to expand our presence across India and provide services in other cities as well. The key for Alserv is to set up the delivery network in each of the cities and then deploy the technology and acquire customers. The current thinking is, we will start operations in the southern cities and most likely Bengaluru and Hyderabad next.





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