A dearth of nurses: Home care centres hit


Most of the nursing homes in Delhi are running short of nursing staff, causing problems to elderly patients in home isolation.

New Delhi: Mangal Singh’s phone keeps buzzing throughout the day with SOS calls for nurses and attendants required for home isolation patients in Delhi. As one of the founders of Garima Nursing Bureau, he gets more than 40-50 calls a day, most of which he attempts to answer and fulfill. 

At times when the demand is too high, he often goes to the patient’s house himself till he can find an alternative. 

“I will do anything to serve the people. God has given me this life and job to serve people, I will do my best,” he said. 

The recent Ministry of Health guidelines dated 28th April 28, 2021 has stated that elderly patients aged more than 60 years of age and people with comorbidities  co-morbidities can be allowed for home isolation if the doctor permits. The rules also state that a “caregiver should be available to provide care on a 24 x7 basis”. 

Hunting for nurses:

This has spiked the requirement for nurses for elderly or serious patients under home isolation. Twitter is filled with netizens looking for nurses for their or their friend’s grandparents in Delhi.

Savitri, the call attendant at the Antara Home Care said that they have no nurses available at the moment and she does not know when they would be available. 

“Our charge is Rs. 70,000 for seven7 days for a full time-nurse. Although, nurses are not available at the moment,” she said.

This is the case for most of the nursing centres in Delhi which are overburdened with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the city.

Emoha Elder Care, which charges Rs.15,000 for a full-time nurse for a day, also has a waiting list of seven days due to the surge they are dealing with. 

Shortages and suggestion:

Big hospitals in Delhi, which are currently in news for the shortage of oxygen and beds, are also short of the home isolation special packages that were supposed to provide basic facilities to Covid care patients at home. 

A leading private hospital in Delhi does not have the stock for Covid-19 essential items, including oximeter, thermometer, and disinfectant, and hashave thus discontinued this service. A patient needs to buy these products themselves and can then consult the doctors there. 

The problem, said Dr. Pushkar Kumar, is because of the surge the health sector is facing. Dr. Kumar is the Senior Public Health Specialist at the Public Health Foundation of India. He said, “If there wereare 10 patients before, there are more than 100 now. The shortage of nurses is obvious. It is difficult to get new people in the system immediately.”

Dr Kumar suggests that the Delhi Government should create a centralized calling system through which a home isolation patient can look for not just nurses, but also oxygen, beds, and other essential services.