ElderLine, a helpline launched by the Mumbai police to provide assistance to the elderly, has received over 1.3 lakh calls from senior citizens since its inception on May 2, 2006.
However, of the 1,36,170 calls made, assistance was provided only to 50% of the callers, primarily due to manpower shortage dogging the service.
The ElderLine, the police said, is a multipurpose helpline, which can be used for hotel licensing, passport verification, traffic information, among other services, apart from providing assistance to senior citizens.
According to statistics obtained from the Mumbai police, around 69,315 callers were provided the requisite help, while around 66,855 calls were termed as ‘hang-up calls.’ “We have two policemen stationed to respond to the ElderaLine calls at all hours. On several occasions, calls are missed because the callers cannot get through the number since it’s busy or they disconnect to avail an alternative service,” said inspector Feroz Patel who works with the ElderLine.
The policemen claim that the helpline would have been more effective if the manpower available with the service is increased. “As of now, we have only two persons handling all calls at the helpline. Although officials claim that we get only 15 to 20 calls on the line each day, statistics show that the number of hang-up calls is almost the same as that of those answered. If we have developed an excellent initiative like ElderLine, its effectiveness should not be compromised on,” said an official who did not wish to be named.
The helpline, according to the police, was initiated with a view to cater to the growing number of senior citizens who have been living alone in the city and are the most vulnerable to criminal elements, health problems and depression.
Senior citizens can call the helpline at 1090 when they are in immediate need of assistance from medical professionals, when they are being threatened by physical violence or are in situations that pose a risk to their lives, or to register themselves with the service.