The art of professional elderly care will be taught for the first time in Pakistan at the Vocational Training Institute (TAFF-VTI) of the TAF Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working for women empowerment.
This is the first-of-its-kind Elderly Care Assistant program for which TAFF has partnered with Aga Khan University (AKU), for the development of the curriculum and training material.
The program will ensure that all trainees acquire the knowledge, skills and attitude required to provide basic care for an elderly individual. The program also covers instruction in basic principles of work and medical ethics along with the identification of common illnesses in the elderly and how these impact their daily functioning.
It is to be noted that Pakistan has a fast growing aged population, which could touch 45 million by 2025. It already has close to 18 million people aged 60 and above. A generation or so ago, the elderly were taken care of by younger family members as the joint family system was widely prevalent. However today, in most families the children have moved out of joint family system or migrated to other countries, leaving a large population of elderly people who need specialized care.
Typically the elderly suffer from loneliness, fatigue, mobility impairment, dyspnoea (difficult or laboured breathing), urinary incontinence and visual impairment, besides such illnesses as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis.
“The availability of qualified personnel for elderly care is the need of the hour in our society today,” stated Aatiqa Lateef, the CEO of TAF Foundation, adding, “this groundbreaking initiative of ours is about respect for our elders, about caring for them as our moral duty, and about providing compassionate women with the opportunity to acquire specialized training and a sustainable livelihood.”
The Elderly Care Course offers hands-on practice and exposure to its students through an On-the-Job Training (OJT) component that is built into the program through collaboration with the Holy Family Hospital, which is one of the most trusted and prestigious hospitals in Karachi. The Hospital will also provide support for the medical assessment of the candidates prior to the commencement of the program.
Twenty students between the ages of 20 and 45 years, and with minimum education of Matriculation, have been recruited for the pilot batch. Their training will include understanding of the basics of common geriatric syndromes by an experienced and qualified faculty. The curriculum also includes modules related to soft skills such as Legal Empowerment, Financial Empowerment and Professionalism & Ethics.
The placement department at TAFF-VTI will be responsible for placing the trained female caregivers in homes where they are needed, under a contract which respects the rights of both the caregivers and the patients. Thus the Elderly Care program not only provides respectable and sustainable livelihood opportunities for marginalized women who are eager to acquire skills, but it also provides a workable solution to a burgeoning societal issue.