Nigerians having aged parents may have nothing to worry about again as far as caring for the senior citizens are concerned.
This is because an outfit dedicated to giving the old citizens the best care has been established in Nigeria.
Talking to journalists on the need to cater for the elderly ones who at some points cannot cater for themselves, Director of the organisation, Isaac Josiah Ukeleghe said, “Senior citizens after paying their dues to the society and their families need to be supported when they can no longer care for themselves.
According to Ukeleghe, MK Executive Care has existed in the United Kingdom offering services to old people in the society, but his experience in Nigeria lately instigated the Nigerian extension of the service.
“In the UK we have been existing for six years and until last year I did not think that caring is something that is required in Nigeria. I was always coming to Nigeria for holidays and until last year when I had my personal experience,” he said.
He explained further that, “Last year I needed someone to look after my dad because he couldn’t look after himself anymore. He needed mobility and assistance in mobility and none of his children were around to support him. So we depended on an external person to look after him.”
Continuing, he said, “Luckily for us someone within the village took interest and the person without any training or formal arrangement decided to start coming to my daddy’s house to look after him. The service he was rendering for my dad is what I do for others. So we came to a point we had to set up a formal arrangement. So we started paying him monthly, later my dad died in April at about 110.”
Comparing the available structure in the UK to what obtains in Nigeria, he said, the difference is clear but Nigeria can still catch up and do things right.
“One of the things that must be very clear as compared to the UK is that Nigeria does not have a structured system where you could advertise for a position, get applicants and in front of the applicants you could do a background check,” he lamented.
Going by the model of his outfit’s operation, MK Executive Care does not run old people’s home but provides trained caregivers for clients who subscribe for the service. “It is a situation where interested persons would consult us for the services and we study their cases and provide the most suitable caregiver to work with them. It could be someone who would work for four hours, eight hours, twelve hours, few days in the week or a live-in caregiver depending on the client’s choice. Clients could also make their choices about the type of caregiver they want,” he explained.
“Unfortunately Nigeria does not have such system like we have in the UK. We are hoping though that with things changing and with good intention, we would get to that point. That is why we are managing and using the basic things that are available. For instance when we employ someone, one of the commonest things we do is to get the phone number of the person and we check if it is registered in the person’s name, we also get guarantors and we phone the guarantors to make them accept the responsibility.
“The few ones we have got we have gone to the length of going to their houses to be sure and in addition we also get the prove of address to again check the address to see that is actually where the person is, “ he said.
Continuing on background checks, Ukeleghe said, “We are doing some police checks but they are not as detailed and as comprehensive as what we have in the UK. However we are trying to refine our system on the context of where we operate because we know we need to refine it and training is also very important. So we need to train our workers.
“Not just about employing the person but training them to buy into the vision of the organisation. And hopefully with the check we have in place, for instance when we send someone to a place we would regularly be checking on that person. We do a spot check, we regularly check without announcing we were coming and we regularly phone our clients to see whether they are happy,” he explained.
He however envisaged some challenges that could arise which the organization is working ahead to provide solutions in advance. “We have envisaged some challenges and we are working ahead too. The very first one is the culture change. In my case we almost thought that our people do not need the service, we always say that the family support is always there.
“What we forget is that when we bring civilization in, we want to push our children to go out and get greener pasture, our children can no longer be with us again and there is a vacuum and someone needs to fill that vacuum so that culture change is there and we need to fine-tune our minds to know that, that old time is gone when you think the family is there.
“Even as organised as the system is in the UK is, we have workers who steal from and abuse their clients, how much more in a place where there is no system. We still try to make sure we use the available systems to get things working.
“We have CCTV in the office and we want to have a system where you we can install CCTV in the homes of our clients where they can see their old parents from anywhere in the world,” he said.