Monday, September 03, 2007

Outsourcing Britain's elderly to India?

First jobs were outsourced from Britain to India. Next it was healthcare, with hundreds of Britons travelling to leading hospitals in Indian cities for surgical operations and other medical procedures. Now another aspect of healthcare may be outsourced to India — that of looking after some of Britain's elderly or disabled.

The reason is the same — costs are much lower in India.

"I'm looking for a suitable site to set up a home for the elderly in Delhi or Noida,” said Ajit Prasad, who owns five nursing homes in Britain, three of them in high-end Surrey area. "My estimate is that it would cost people around 700 pounds per month." Staying in a home of a similar quality in Britiain would cost around 1600 pounds.

The financial aspect is crucial for the elderly since incomes invariably fall after retirement, while living costs keep rising.

"More and more Indians in Britain, after their retirement, are opting to return to their roots," said Dr Shiv Pande, formerly treasurer of the General Medical Council. "Such an arrangement, by which they can live in India, would certainly appeal to them."

Dr Pande said he knew of at least half a dozen elderly people who have gone back to India to stay in Haridwar or Nasik. "They are living on their own and will need more care as they grow older. They wish British owned old age homes of a decent standard would come up in India."

A local daily recently narrated the story of Steve Herzfeld, an American, who has been supporting his aged parents, who live in an old age home, for the past three years. He was finding his resources increasingly strained, and has now decided to relocate them to India.

The burgeoning pension bill, as more and more Britons live longer and longer, has led to serious thinking about allocating their care to old age homes in India. Only 30 per cent of the local authorities fund is available for the care of people without life-threatening or critical diseases.