True To Its Calling
India Home Health Care is redefining palliative care in the country with its home-based servicesBy Arun Francis
In early 2009, V Thiyagarajan, or VT as he is fondly called, came up with a plan that would change the future of geriatric care in the country. “I saw my aunt struggling through her final days without help,” says the IT expert who lives in Chennai. “I’m pretty sure a proper rehabilitation facility would have helped her recuperate.” Back then, palliative care and home-based rehabilitation services were practically unheard of in India.
An increasing share of the country’s population chooses to settle overseas every year, and this has led to a significant rise in the need for home-based healthcare, especially for the older generation. Thiyagarajan conceived India Home Health Care (IHHC), a home-based healthcare service, in an effort to make things easier for those have reached the dusk of their lives. The startup, which is a partner of Philadelphia-based BAYADA Home Health Care, provides care and assistance to its patients within the comfort of their homes.
IHHC has four centers, 500 on-roll employees and a few hundred off-roll employees to carry out its services. Its specialized team consists of registered nurses, medical caretakers, physical and occupational therapists, doctors and medical consultants, trained attendees and more. Apart from palliative care services, IHHC provides exceptional service in post-surgical care, tracheostomy and ventilator care, cancer care, orthopedic care, newborn care, elder care, stroke rehab, and cardiac care.
Palliative care has gradually become an integral part of our country’s healthcare solutions and IHHC can proudly claim a role in this promising change. Like any other ambitious venture, IHHC’s beginnings, too, saw many rough patches. Its initial challenges came about due to a lack of awareness among people about the kind of services that were offered. Being the pioneers in home-based care, VT shares how both consumers and his workforce knew little or nothing about its services. There were no competitors in the market, but the startup had to invest quite a lot in its learning curve and in course corrections. All its hard work saw the light when BAYADA healthcare decided to partner with IHHC in 2013, assuring them once again of its fundamentals that had stayed rock-solid, without compromising on the quality of its services.
“AS THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE SKILL SET, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL AND SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF SUPPORTING THE PATIENT AND THE FAMILY THAT NEEDS PALLIATIVE CARE, AND TRAIN NURSES FOR THE SAME.”Dr Anitha Arockiasamy
President, India Home Health Care (IHHC)
Dr Anitha Arockiasamy, President of IHHC, shared how the organization has scaled since its association with BAYADA, one of the world’s largest home healthcare specialists. “Our association with BAYADA has benefited us in many ways,” she says. “Established in 1975, BAYADA brings many years of experience including the industry’s best practices and standards. We’ve found our vision of wanting to provide home healthcare with compassion, excellence and reliability is very similar to that of BAYADA’s and this partnership has only helped further that vision.”
The startup has also tied up with several hospitals across cities in India, through a white-label product and a referral-based system. It has witnessed an influx in the number of patients seeking its services directly through the hospitals. IHHC’s consistency in delivering quality services has helped them be recognized as one of the finest home-based healthcare providers in the country.
“Have you come across the term ‘eccedentesiast’ before? It is common among nurses, and to explain briefly, it refers to a person who hides his/her feelings behind a smile. This couldn’t be truer than with the nurses at IHHC who go through physical and emotional crunches due to the demands that come with taking care of the old and the sick. To cope with this, our nurses and caretakers are encouraged to focus on their personal wellness and to have a healthy social life outside of work. This includes appropriate sleeping and exercising patterns,” says a proud Dr. Arockiasamy, about equipping its staff to deal with anxiety and pressure.
Reflecting on the differences in the approach towards palliative care in India and the West, she says, “Palliative care is a nascent concept in India, where very few hospitals provide specialized care. In the West, there is a more holistic approach towards palliative care; it has been increasingly moving towards a home-based service. We need to train our workforce on the sensitivity of providing this essential service and develop the expertise to deliver the same. We need to understand the emotional, social and spiritual aspects of supporting the patient and the family that needs care, and train nurses for the same.”
In its quest to create a wider service network, IHHC hopes to hold hands with more hospitals in the near future and spread its roots to other states and countries as well. To the hundreds of old and ailing in the country, it is the answer to their silent, vehement pleadings