In pandemic-hit city, Emoha steps up to help the elderly
Sixty-nine-year-old Sneh Grover, a resident of west Delhi’s Maya Enclave, was worried when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown from March 25, to control the spread of Covid-19.
Grover lives with her husband, and reports of senior citizens being more vulnerable to the virus had only added to her panic. Last week, however, her problem was solved when Varun Suri stepped forward.
Suri is a volunteer with Emoha Elder Care, a tech start-up offering solutions that enable elders to comfortably live at home. Emoha has been providing services for senior citizens across Delhi and the neighbouring satellite towns for over two years, and recently launched a special programme ‘Elders First, Ghar pe Rahiye’ to help senior citizens in Delhi-NCR survive the lockdown. Emoha volunteers, while delivering essentials at doorsteps, also ensure their own safety by strictly following social distancing norms.
In a span of two weeks, more than 2,500 volunteers signed up to help out the elderly purchase their everyday essentials, so that they do not risk their health by stepping out. With Covid-19 cases on the rise in the region, Emoha has launched a free 24x7 helpline — 1800-123-44-5555 — for senior citizen needs.
Hindustan Times has partnered with Emoha to cater to the needs of the elderly.
From delivering essential commodities at their doorsteps to providing emergency ambulance coordination, virtual doctor consults and even virtual recreational activities, Emoha is going all out to help out the elderly as the pandemic rages on in the city.
Saumyajit Roy, CEO and co-founder of Emoha, said they have stepped up their operations considering the elderly needed the most care, during such a crisis. He said that along with expanding their volunteer base, the caregiver service is now also roping in more health care experts to have sessions with their clients to ease the panic around the infection.
He added: “Emoha’s strength lies in the fact that our elders feel comfortable calling us for any help they need and we encourage young people to come forward and join us to make this happen.”
To register as a volunteer with Emoha Elder Care, people need to sign up on their website www.emoha.com or download the Emoha Responder App on Google Play/iOS store. Likewise, an elder seeking help can also sign up on Emoha’s website, which has over registered 2,600 senior citizens.
Explaining how Emoha functions, Roy said most volunteers cater to senior citizens living in their vicinity. For instance, he says, when a senior citizen calls the Emoha helpline to place a request like help with grocery delivery from a neighbourhood, the request will be flashed to all volunteers in the area; these volunteers can then coordinate and buy the required items.
Since the requests are forwarded from with a vicinity, volunteers do not have to depend on any mode of transportation to complete the task., and Emoha recommends the elders reimburse the volunteers through digital payments.
In Gurugram, the startup has also collaborated with the police to cater to the needs of seniors.
Sharing his experience with the service, 63-year-old Murli Das, a resident of east Delhi, said he requested Emoha to help him get two of his wife’s medicines, which he was unable to find in his neighbourhood medical stores because of lockdown restrictions.
“The volunteer was a young man named Kamal. He called to assure me that he will find the medicines as soon as he can. Within a few hours, he was at my doorstep. It had been many days since we had spoken to a friendly voice from outside, it felt nice,” Das said in a video message.
“In such times when stepping out means risking your lives, it is important to care for our elders. In a day I get three to four calls from my area for the delivery of basic requirements like vegetables and groceries. I just have to buy some extra while I buy some for my own house,” said Shafiq, another volunteer from Emoha.
Health experts said such initiatives were welcome because it was important for senior citizens to stay at home. “Anyone above the age of 50 years need to be extra careful. The elderly have compromised immunity and their lungs take more time clearing up. All these factors make them extremely vulnerable to coronavirus,” said Ravi Shekhar Jha, senior consultant and head of department, pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad.