Paramedics And Geriatric Care
The definition of paramedics as healthcare professionals, in the pre-hospital and out-of-hospital environment, working mainly as part of emergency medical services (EMS), such as an ambulance, or an accident or emergency science is no longer true, as it does not cover the full scope of their services and the vast implications on the lives they touch. This is true with elders especially with the longevity as seen today and the rapid changes in demography.
In Montreal, Canada, two paramedics worked with 280 elders in a senior community, advising them on health issues and healthy lifestyles. The eight-month long interactive project revealed a 32 per cent decrease in visits to the emergency room and kept them away from cardiovascular risk, falls and diabetes!
The Scenario In India
India is experiencing a severe shortage of trained paramedics and according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), India ranks 83 in the list of countries that are yet to have the medical amenities and workforce for the welfare of its citizens. The ratio of nurse to a physician is one is to ten, whereas, according to global standards, there should be 2.8 nurses for one doctor. India’s public health foundation has also acknowledged the need to have trained paramedic personnel.
Currently, articles have been circulating on the various contributions paramedics can make to society through their roles as medical technicians, pharmacists etc. but no matter what their role, the requirement for an emphasis on adding the aspect of geriatric care to paramedic training, nursing and the study of medicine becomes increasingly evident based on the phenomenal increase in the elderly, world over. The need for trained care givers and paramedics for the burgeoning senior citizens of India will become very acute. With nuclear families and the small family norms, elders often find they are left alone to fend for themselves with no companionship.
Support And Care
Novel establishments have come up with offers to help and support in such situations, wherein, It is the trained paramedical manpower. providing assistance, companionship and holistic wellness rather than medical care. Apollo Hospitals has taken the initiative to otter paramedic courses and they have visiting faculty from Stanford University. A special emphasis and hands-on internships working with seniors for the paramedics prepares them well for the future.
In Gurgaon, an NGO is offering a tree ambulance service with a paramedic on board. The first aid offered in emergency situations for seniors is of great significance in easing the pain and trauma of the elderly.
The Needs Of Seniors
The Dignity Foundation of Kolkata provides help lines numbers for the 91 million seniors who are aged 60 and more suffering from loneliness, neglect and chronic disease in the dusk of their lives.
Growing old in poverty is not easy, and the volunteers supporting this helpline initiative and conducting weekly tea sessions called, ‘Chai Adda’ for seniors to socialize are paramedics, caregivers and social workers all put together. What is happening in India now is an awakening, an awareness of senior needs and the need for forums to address simple ways to achieve physical, social and emotional wellness. With more than five lakh people in Kolkata living alone, NGO’s are doing their best to train paramedic type of support systems where a small gesture goes a long way. Also, elder self-help groups started by Help Age India are providing the resources and security to elderly.
However, the interventions by a few paramedics as in the Montreal pilot project study would go a long way in connecting the elderly with community resources. Eventually, it is all about kindness, communication and service delivered with dignity, warmth, empathy and love, with a sense of emergency and a value of time. These are the sterling qualities found only in paramedics.