Spotlight: In Conversation with Kabir Chadha, Founder of Epoch Elder Care
Kabir Chadha is the CEO and founder of Epoch Elder Care - an organisation, which is committed to healthy ageing and provides professional at-home care for the Indian elderly. They work with three types of elderly people: Those who are in need of intellectual companionship, health monitoring, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Some of the facilities they provide include fall risk assessment, doctor referrals, mental stimulation, and social support. New in India, the services that Epoch Elder Care brings to its customers are fast catching with the older population; after all, India is a young country with the world’s second largest elderly population. There are 100 million Indians above the age of 65 and that number is going to double by 2040.
Today, we are in conversation with Kabir Chadha, Founder of Epoch Elder Care. We will understand from him the idea behind such a concept, issues elders face today, his organisation and its future goals.
Mansi Kohli. What inspired you to start such an organization?
Kabir Chadha. I have always wanted to start something that is not only a sound business idea but also has real social impact. However, if you ask me to point at a person, then I will say that my grandmother is my inspiration. She went through a medically tough time for a few years and we found that it is very difficult to provide high quality care for an elderly person at home in India.
Today, despite being over 80 years old, she has a busy schedule. She does yoga for 1 hour every morning, reads the newspaper religiously, takes English lessons to brush up for when her American grandchildren (who don’t speak Hindi) visit. Nani cooks up a storm in the kitchen and frequently goes to her friends’ and family’s home. In any given day, at least a couple people come to see her. She travels to her hometown, Pune, every year, and manages to walk three kilometers every evening without fail. She is currently my roommate and is a constant reminder of what it means to age healthily, gracefully and in a fun way!
Mansi Kohli. What kind of issues do the elderly face in India today?
Kabir Chadha. Before starting Epoch, I did research about the elder care market in India. There are about five points I think are crucial, and that people I talk to often find surprising. Here goes:
- India is a young country with the world’s second largest elderly population: There are 100 million Indians above the age of 65 and that number is going to double by 2040.
- The elderly have many needs, but the biggest one is that of companionship - the elderly are lonely. Other needs include access to proper medical care, regular exercise, a healthy diet, financial stability, spiritual wellbeing, and physical safety. However, when an elderly person stops interacting socially, it is very difficult for their other needs to be met.
- The elderly in India want to stay at home, unlike their Western counterparts. People who are currently in their 50s and 60s are more open to moving to retirement communities, but for those who are in their 70s and 80s, a move is unlikely.
- There is no good talent in the field other than family and domestic help…and that’s where we come in.
Mansi Kohli. What services does your organization offer?
Kabir Chadha. For all clients, the Elder Care Specialist provides focused attention to the elderly by visiting the elderly person at home and regular phone calls to check up on their wellbeing. The ECS also provides access to a variety of at-home elder care products and services and, to ensure they have a holistic picture, the ECS works together with their adult children, family, friends, and domestic staff. For each type of client, Epoch Elder Care has specialized services as well. For our clients who only require intellectual companionship, we accompany them in outings and social events. We read and discuss current events and literature. We play stimulating games including Rummy, Scrabble and Mahjong. We also assist with technology (e.g., Email, Skype, Facebook, and even mobile phone usage).
For those who require health management, we also check vitals (e.g., blood pressure, blood sugar), ensure personal and environment hygiene, help the elderly manage their medication and assist with hospital visits. For our Alzheimer’s and dementia care clients, we provide memory care, respite care and caregiver training.
Mansi Kohli. Have you got a positive response so far?
Kabir Chadha. We have had a very encouraging response so far, both from potential customers as well as people wanting to join as Elder Care Specialists. As of now, we work with clients in South Delhi, East Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Dwarka and Faridabad.
However, there is some resistance to the idea of having a professional taking care of an elderly person. Traditionally in India, this is something a family member would do. But once we get into the homes, we have little trouble retaining a customer. The biggest hurdle is going to be building an awareness and acceptance of professional elder care services.
Mansi Kohli. How do you think one can be an effective caregiver?
Kabir Chadha. An effective caregiver needs relevant soft and hard skills. At Epoch, our Elder Care Specialists (ECS) have the soft skills: patience, empathy, creativity, and desire to work with the elderly. They also have relevant work experience with the elderly either in a professional or personal setting. For example, one of our Specialists worked at a Retirement Community in Australia while another was the primary care giver for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. All are extremely well educated (with Master’s degrees in Psychology, Physiotherapy and Social Work) and are trained for over two weeks. However the one quality that is common among every care giver is heart – they genuinely have a soft and caring heart.
Mansi Kohli. Where do you see your organization going 5 years from now?
Kabir Chadha. In 5 years from now, we strive to be India's leading Elder Care Organization both in terms of the quality of our care, as well as the number of elderly we serve. Right now we provide home care for the elderly, but we are also developing projects where we play an operator role in old age homes and day-care centers for the elderly.
Before starting Epoch Elder Care, Kabir worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York, where he worked on strategic projects for global MNCs mainly in the finance and healthcare sectors.
*Image courtesy: © Kabir Chadha