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We ensure old age is ‘lived well’: Sevarat Founder Rohini Gonsalves

With the modern family life being all about small nuclear families, with their members swamped with responsibilities and work in their professional lives, not having much time for leisure, relaxed family time, or even for their own selves for that matter, what becomes a humongous and difficult task is to look after the elderly in the family, and often, when the elderly members fall ill or require attention, time, and love, the younger ones cannot engage with them, even if they want to.

With the motto of ‘doing ordinary tasks with extraordinary love’, Sevarat Healthcare and Nursing Pvt Ltd, is a dedicated senior care service, providing timely, reliable and professional services to meet every single need of the elderly within their own homes. With its dedicated, trustworthy, well-trained, and groomed staff to cater to the needs of the elderly, be it at home or in hospital, Sevarat is committed to provide loving companionship, care, and cure, through its personalised services.

Sevarat Healthcare and Nursing Pvt Ltd was founded in 2015 by Rohini Gonsalves, with the mission of ‘being in service’, and in order to know more about how Sevarat works, Sonakshi Datta of Incubees asked Rohini a number of questions about her startup.

What led to Sevarat becoming a reality?

Firstly, my own experience of the challenges faced by most modern urban families, wherein everyone is busy or away from home, and have their elders to be looked after in their absence. This left me moved and pressed into action to do something about this rampant problem.

Sevarat is a heartfelt initiative to address this need. I am so driven by this cause that I cannot stop working to make our offerings better, and address more issues that the elderly face.

How does Sevarat make sure that old age is ‘lived well’ by its clients?

In a way, it is very trying on an individual or family that has an ailing elderly person to be looked after. It is very likely that the person begins to feel like a burden. Sometimes, they are lonely, even neglected. When a Sevarat nurse or caretaker comes in, this changes instantly. They make the person feel cared for, listened to and valued. They encourage them to be independent by doing simple tasks on their own, and that builds a lot of confidence and self-worth.

What are the different kinds of senior care events organized by Sevarat?

We organize the World Senior Citizens Day on August 21 every year. We also organized a cancer support group on World Cancer Day in 2020, then COVID-19 struck and things changed for the worse for the elderly; they were now confined to their homes, relatives and friends ceased to visit them.

They were lonely and depressed, so we started ‘Wah! Zindagi’ in May 2022, a small attempt to bring the seniors out and have a day of fun and games. And boy! What a time they had. They were like school kids on a picnic. Following that, and inspired by their spirit, I thought we should do something bigger, then we created a world record with the largest number of senior citizens performing a Goan Folk Dance on 21 Aug, 2022.

We organized a talk and workshop for caregivers and families of the elderly on Carer Burnout called Fill Your Cup, where a noted psychologist took the participants through various exercises to teach them self-love. It was extremely well received. This made me aware of the vast gap in what the needs of elders is, and what is actually available currently.

This time, I had to humbly admit that it was beyond my means to create such activities, so we formed an NGO called Sevarat Foundation so that we could use volunteers and donations to work for this cause.

Sevarat Foundation has now started, and has completed several initiatives. In November 2022, we organized Dancing Crown – a dance competition for elders where we had amazing performances put up by women from Savordem to Tuem, and what a fulfilling and heart- warming experience it has been.

Another initiative is called ‘Viva-re-Viva’. This is an on-going initiative with several senior groups where we, from Sevarat Foundation, visit them once a month and conduct various activities in each location. While we have been engaging in several activities, I think it is just a drop in the ocean. There is so much more to be done.

What is the Sevarat ‘membership’? How is the Sevarat model ‘flexible’?

The Sevarat Membership is an assurance that whenever the person is in need of assistance, we will be there to assist them. This is because when one goes to seek help in the time of need, one has to always compromise. They cannot do the basic checks on reliability, they have no control on the quality, and because they are in a dire situation, they just have to take whatever is available. In worse cases, they just cannot find someone when needed.

So, once a person is a member at Sevarat, the family is completely at peace, as they can call us for assistance anytime 24x7x364 (We do not serve on October 15 every year on the occasion of our Foundation Day). The model is flexible, and hence they can use a nurse or caretaker; for the day or the night or 24 hours; for any number days; as per any schedule and pay only for the days the service is used. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only service provider offering this model in the country.

What makes your staff trustworthy for your clients?

This is a very important question. Since we serve customers at their residence, we cannot monitor the staffers’ conduct. We had to plug their reliability and trustworthiness concerns.

So firstly, every single person is hand-picked after vigorous evaluation. We train and groom them to sensitize them to the needs of the elderly. And we have a threefold verification process. We get their Police Verification Certificate from their home location; then we register them with the Police Station at Panaji, Goa. Finally, we have a third- party independent verification where we verify the authenticity of their documents – including their KYC and qualifications, an online criminal record check, a law firm certifies that they do not have any criminal record for the last 7 years, and we have the agency visit their residence for physical verification.

We repeat the independent criminal tests and address verification annually.

What are some of the accolades Sevarat has been felicitated with?

We won the Business Diva Awards, 2022, created a world record in 2022 itself, Won the Dia De Goa Awards, again in 2022, received seed fund from the Government of Goa in 2019, at Vibrant Goa.

We were also the runners up for the Chief Minister’s Start-up Championship in 2017, and were the finalists at ‘Kaun Benega Udyogpati’ in 2016.

 

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