If you have a compelling desire to care for people who are at the dusk of their life, or at least empathise with ageing people, then you may want to explore career opportunities in gerontology (the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing).
The National Institute of Social Development (NISD) runs a one-year postgraduate diploma and six-months certificate programme in geriatric studies. The diploma course prepares you to provide medical care and counselling to elderly people in distress. You are also taught to deal with some aspects of the social development of senior citizens, such as research methodologies for data collection and policy formulation to improve conditions at the grassroots level.
NISD is a central government initiative run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under the National Initiative for the Care of Elderly (NICE) programme and aims to train and build caregiver capacity for the rising “dependent” population.
“We had initially tied up with around 400 NGOs and we started training young people to produce trained manpower. Though many of our students end up working in these organisations, a few have also gone abroad on scholarships for further studies though the number of such people is very small,” says Sunil Kumar, deputy director, NISD.
Kumar emphasises that the main objectives of the NISD course is to equip people with the knowledge of elderly health, nutrition, psychology and to some extent, rehabilitation. “We believe in the concept of productive ageing, (which seeks to) help the elderly keep pace with time. We also give 21-day-long IT training to aged people in several cities,” he adds.
Students are prepared for six different papers: gerontology, clinical geriatric (providing basic healthcare), public policy and planning, geriatric management (to be able to work in old-age homes), counselling and research methodology.
“We teach them all aspects of caring for the elderly. They are equipped to manage an NGO, carry out research, provide basic healthcare and also to provide counselling to elderly people,” says Dr Anindita S Roy, psychologist and faculty member, NISD.
The course also comprises a project in which students have to make inferences and reports based on data collection from secondary sources and other research.
In order to be able to apply for the PG diploma programme, you must be a fresh graduate from any discipline, though it is better to have some background in social sciences or psychology. For the certificate course, you should have passed secondary.
“Once you are eligible, you can appear for an entrance test comprising general knowledge, maths and English questions,” says Poonam Rani, research officer, NISD.
Interestingly, the course attracts several qualified professionals for both the programmes. “In my batch, there were three lawyers, two people from media organisations, and one doctoral student from the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Though the eligibility criteria is just tenth pass, I doubt if there was even a single person who was just tenth-standard pass,” says Dr Ashwani Raghav, a physician, who completed the six-month certificate course from NISD in 2002.
Dr Raghav and a couple of his batchmates started Healing Touch, an NGO in Delhi which provides psychological support to the aged who have been harassed by family or society.
“We hold workshops in schools where we invite grandparents and try to bridge the inter-generational gap. More youngsters should think seriously about making geriatric care a career option,” adds Raghav.
Earn to care
Last date to apply: June 18
Entrance test: July 11
To apply, send demand draft or pay order for Rs 80 drawn in favour of the director, National Institute of Social Defence, Old Age Care Division,
National Institute of Social Defence, West Block-1,Wing 3, first floor, RK Puram,
New Delhi - 110066