Hectic work schedules make it tough for people to spend extended time with loved ones who are hospitalised. A ‘buddy’ can now fill in for them.
Bandra-based homemaker, Dilshad Dewani recently launched a service to provide companions or ‘buddies’ for hospitalised patients. The companions will be there to hold patients’ hands, listen to them, read or play board games to make the hospital stay less lonely.
“They will be caring listeners and good friends, providing emotional support, which is as important as medicines for the healing process,” said Dewani, adding that ‘buddies’ will even carry CD players and books to entertain patients.
The 48-year-old first thought of the concept when she was hospitalised for the delivery of her child more than two decades ago. “When people from a slum or chawl are hospitalised, most of their neighbours tend to visit them. I realised people like me from nuclear, middle-class families, whose members are working, end up alone for long periods during a hospital stay,” she said.
Dewani set up the service with help from the founder of a US-based organisation providing such services, and her son Salim, an IIT graduate. About 10 trained volunteers, mostly students, young professionals and social workers, are in place.
Will the service find takers, given that Indian families are known to stay with patients even after hospital visiting hours? “I’m told the concept is ahead of its time in India, but we’ll be happy even if we help a few people,” said Dewani.
PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, is considering collaborations with such service providers in future. “Given the current socio-economic scenario, and emergence of nuclear families, visitors per patient are declining,” said Joy Chakraborty, hospital’s deputy director, administration.
“On an average, a patient in India has 1.5 visitors a day, compared to 0.75 in developed countries. The ratio is higher but lesser than in the past,” he said.