With over 100 million senior citizens in India, there is a growing need to cater to the comprehensive needs of the elderly, which have evolved dramatically in recent years due to fundamental socio-economic changes in the country. The coming years will represent a rapid acceleration of this market with increasing longevity, wealth, changing mindsets and social norms. Samarth is one social venture which has been quietly working at the centre of this change over the last five years and has built national reach, service platforms and product offerings blending touch and technology to serve this market.
Samarth Eldercare, launched in 2016, was built with the singular mission of bringing peace of mind and happiness to the elderly in India. It helps the elderly and cares for them just like a son or a daughter would, says founder Asheesh Gupta, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, IIM Calcutta and McKinsey & Company.
The founders were motivated by their own need to care for their parents, put together their experience from strategy consulting, media, operations, technology and service with leading global organizations.
"We, the four founders of Samarth, were personally very affected with lack of quality support for elderly especially as they preferred to stay in their own home. Then we thought either we could keep complaining about this or build something that would solve this problem, not only for us but also for others. That's how Samarth was started," says Asheesh Gupta.
Anuradha Das Mathur, Samarth co-founder and an economist from Cambridge, also the founding Dean of Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, says, "We realized that we have to blend touch and tech intelligently to make it work for seniors. Building trust was, and continues to be our number one priority."
Samarth today is India's largest community of active seniors with 30,000+ members across 110+ cities, helping people in India and 22 other countries extend care and help their parents live independently and safely in their own homes in India.
The support offered by Samarth is very comprehensive, covering all aspects of seniors' needs when they are living in their own homes. From Emergency support to medical needs such as health visits, consultations, records, critical care, medicines; all sorts of convenience needs such as payments, services at home, accompanied visits for any purpose, documentation, renewals, banking etc.; mental and social engagement with online and in-person events, hobbies, conversations, the list is long. Gaurav Agarwal, co-founder and a banking veteran who runs the operations, says, "a son or daughter would not tell the parents that something is not in their scope. Our teams do the same. Over the years, there are hardly any needs we have not served with our clients. But if there is another one, we take it on. With our extensive network of curated partners, we know how to best provide for most needed things."
Samarth was also a saviour to many in the Covid Pandemic. This included both the elderly and children overseas or in other cities who could not travel. Asheesh says that Covid-19 was a crucial phase for the elderly and also for Samarth. The needs of the elderly came to the fore very vividly. It also resulted in greater awareness about their problems, something which was not being done till now.
The lockdown had a significant impact as mobility was difficult, and the elderly were even more isolated. He adds that there was also a lot of fear among them. Samarth made sure that people under their care had access to everything from medicines to provisions, equipment etc. and importantly, the confidence that they were not alone.
"We ensured they had counselling support. We called them up from time to time, and at times, the call went on for more than an hour to comfort them, distract them. They did not have people to talk to," said Asheesh Gupta.
The isolation also led to depression and mental illnesses. The mental aspect of the Covid pandemic was also very pronounced where Samarth stepped up with counselling support. Many leading corporates also realized the importance of this support for their employees and have partnered with Samarth.
What Samarth and the team of Asheesh Gupta are doing is remarkable and deserve support and applause. To know more about their work with care, community building, advocacy, one can visit https://www.samarth.community/.