NATHEALTH lists key recommendations to govt over galvanizing senior & rehab care in India

The cross-sectoral national forum is also coming up with a white paper to strengthen the Centre’s Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020

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New Delhi: Recognizing the urgent need for immediate action on senior and elderly care in India, the Healthcare Federation of India-NATHEALTH has convened a cross-sectorial national forum that brings together all the key stakeholders with relevant experience and expertise in senior care. As part of is immediate initiatives, the forum has assessed and put forth key recommendations to strengthen the Center’s Draft National Policy on Senior Citizens, 2020.
These recommendations are significant considering the changing demographic pattern, socioeconomic needs of the senior citizens, social value system, and advancement in the field of science and technology over the last decade. The new policy will replace the “National Policy on Older Persons, 1999”.
The objective of the forum is to drive the right policy structure and governance framework for the Indian Government and establish a coalesced view of the action imperatives for each of the participant and stakeholder segments. It has also initiated work on a joint whitepaper that proposes solutions and ties together a roadmap on priority action areas pertaining to senior care in India. In the engagements so far, the forum has reached an agreement on common priority blocks/solution areas to formulate the agenda for the white paper with the relevant task forces being set up to conduct research and synthesize recommendations.
Speaking on the National Forum on Senior Care and its priority areas, NATHEALTH President and Vice-Chairperson of Apollo, Ms. Preetha Reddy said, “NATHEALTH is extremely pleased to share that the forum has reviewed the document scrupulously, and believes the draft is well composed and covers a large range of relevant areas. However, since the document needs to include the viewpoints of many critical stakeholders working in the senior living sector, a cross-sectorial intervention has been proposed to seek workable and optimal solutions to the problems of the senior citizens in India. Therefore, the forum has come up with a key recommendation that comprises perspectives from critical stakeholders working in the areas of senior and rehab care in India. We wish to give emphasis on securing financial independence for senior women citizens, a safe home environment, and initiatives around re-skilling and provision of employment through alternate career options. We urge the Government to consider these important recommendations before finalizing the draft national policy 2020.”
Ms. Nanki Singh, CEO and MD, Genesis Rehab Services India and taskforce member of the forum said, “NATHEALTH is in the process of consolidating industry comments through a white paper and the process for its creation will outline a unified set of actions from all senior care stakeholders. Hence, NATHEALTH urges the Government to take in consideration findings as part of the finalization of “National Policy for Senior Citizens, 2020. We are looking forward to receiving support and engagement from the relevant Government stakeholders for moving the recommendations from this white paper forward, and integration into the policy formation process and implementing initial roadmap in collaboration with the industry.”
Speaking about the recommendations from a financial perspective, Mr. Rajit Mehta, CEO and MD, Antara Senior Living and a taskforce member said, “Financial security is a critical element for senior and elderly care therefore, our recommendations include allowing tax exemptions on senior care solutions, a regulatory mechanism to set a viable base rate for the interests accrued on senior citizens deposits, a registered retirement saving plans and higher returns  on investments. Higher FD rates for senior citizens above the age of 65 should be considered and providing them with a second innings in the job opportunity will be crucial in strengthening the financial security. In line with increased life expectancy, we recommend increasing the retirement age to improve the affordability of senior living solutions. Recognizing Senior Care as a Sector through appropriate regulations, policy support, tax structures, availability of subsidized financing and appropriate governance mechanisms including but not limited to a separate ministry would help financial institutions to view this sector as a lucrative alternate investment asset class and promote the silver economy.”
The recommendations for areas that need immediate intervention as suggested by the forum are:
  • Financial security: Critical to support senior citizens via additional tax incentives, higher savings rate, Registered Retirement Saving Plan and pension schemes, similar to those present in other advanced economies.
  • Health care insurance: Major expenses arising from health care needs to be addressed by greater penetration and coverage through health insurances and ironing out issues related to insurance pricing such as the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana), flexibility, claim management, among others.
  • Shelter for senior citizens: Rental accommodation for senior citizen needs to be encouraged with relevant accreditation, financing, and incentives for private sector to cater to citizens wanting to stay alone
  • Rehab care: Comprehensive policy needed for short term rehab facilities covering all critical aspects such as guidelines, financing, human resources, technology, monitoring, etc.
  • Reskilling and employment: Avenues for active & productive ageing need to be massively increased, especially in the private sector by allowing for such hiring as part of CSR
  • Capacity building: Enhancing human capital to cater to the needs of senior care for medical and non-medical needs is important; establishing “senior care” as a career option via the creation of courses as part of skill training programs, etc. will help address this issue
  • Focus on securing senior women citizens: Special emphasis needed on securing financial and other wellbeing of senior women citizens
  • Investment in technology and promoting innovation and role of start-ups: There is significant scope for investment in technology for the creation of medical devices, dedicated apps, etc. senior citizen use and active startup ecosystem to encourage to help cater to needs of senior citizen and address them through innovative solutions
NATHEALTH’s national forum believes that it is important to promote an active start-up ecosystem to help cater to needs of senior citizen and address them through innovative solutions. The aim of this strategic collaboration  is to have a great foundation to build upon and create a platform for collaborative engagement between NATHEALTH, the forum and key Government stakeholders leading to a positive policy framework and committed action initiatives by all stakeholders for the cause of senior citizen care in India.