As joint families are giving way to nuclear families in the city, elderly are being forced to fend for themselves. With their grown-up wards getting busier by the day in their career, the elderly have become substantially dependant on nurses and ayahs provided by the service centres mushrooming in the city.
These service centres are aware that many, if not all, seeking the services are individuals who cannot take care of themselves and thus vulnerable to attacks. But the agencies often do not run a background check on the nurses and maids they employ, risking the life of those they are meant to serve.
“Its not always possible for us to inspect all their details. We try to take some identity documents from them. But we cannot say we are completely aware of all their whereabouts. They usually do not have a permanent residence. So the addresses on the documents provided could be wrong,” said an employee of Ashirbad Nurses and Ayah Centre at Birati.
When a correspondent of Hindustan Times called on the five phone numbers given on a leaflet of a service provider giving ayah, nurse and driver services, all the five receivers refused to speak about the policies the company follows for recruiting these persons. It was found that in most cases a form is needed to be filled up with their name, address and contact number to get the job at most service centres.
“At times it is impossible — due to factors like time constraint — for family members to look after an ailing elderly. Then they call us looking for a reasonably-charging nurse for the same task,” said an employee of Nightingale Nurse Centre at Sarsuna.
But few seeking the service get the background of the ayah or nurse checked with the local police station. Left at the mercy of maids, elderly have been abused, robbed and even murdered in the city.