facebook-pixel

‘Senior Living Communities Are An Amalgam Of Real Estate, Hospitality And Healthcare’, Mohit Nirula

Columbia Pacific Management is the largest developer of senior housing in the United States. It is involved in senior care business for 45 years across the US, UK, and France. Due to the rapidly changing cultural relationship between parents and children, India offers a huge opportunity for senior care/living. Read on for excerpts of the interview. 1. How are you planning on reinventing senior care in India? Nothing would give us at Columbia Pacific Communities greater pleasure than changing the wholly undeserved perception of senior living communities being a solution for people who have “no option” to being the “preferred solution” for seniors living alone in mixed-family communities or in their homes. 2. Sensing the opportunity in the senior living market, many real estate developers in India investing in Retirement homes. What sets you apart from the competitors? Senior living communities are an interesting amalgam of real estate, hospitality and healthcare.  Columbia Pacific Communities with its promoters’ four-decade-long legacy in senior living, the hospitality-rich experience of the team in India and healthcare partners Columbia Asia Hospitals is the only complete solution provider in the country. 3. When it comes to the senior living sector, what challenges did you face in 2020 and how did you overcome those? COVID-19 was the single biggest challenge for Columbia Pacific Communities and our 3,000 residents.  Our success in being able to ringfence our communities from the virus and the external environment was a consequence of the efforts of our wonderful ground operations team members, the support of the Resident Committees and the cooperation of our residents. 4. How did technology help with the challenges created due to the pandemic in 2020? Technology-enabled communication allowed us to keep residents updated with medical protocols and protected from the large amounts of misinformation and disinformation that circulated during the early months of the pandemic. Equally, digital video interactions kept residents connected with friends and family besides remaining engaged in community activities thereby ensuring that physical distancing did not result in loneliness. Social media features such as Facebook Live helped us create engagement programmes that kept seniors meaningfully engaged. And technology platforms even helped us create a 100% digital talent hunt across our 9 communities during the pandemic. 5. While constructing senior living communities, what are the important things you keep in mind? From a design perspective, it is very important that residents are able to access, use and enjoy all parts of the community throughout their stay – irrespective of the impact of advancing years on their mobility. Furthermore, public spaces of a senior living community should be spacious and designed to ensure and encourage social engagement with residents being able to pursue their individual and common interests. 6. In a country like India, where the concept of a joint family still exists, how do you see the demand of senior living homes in the next 5 years? High levels of education and increased career opportunities are taking children away from their parent’s home cities.  Also, increasing life expectancy, better medical care means people are living longer and healthier lives.  The current gap between demand (200,000 homes) in urban India and supply (20,000 homes) is only expected to grow. 7. Right now, you have branches in Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Puducherry & Kanchipuram. Which other cities are you planning to expand in India in 2021? We would start construction on new projects in the cities of Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru in 2021 – 22. 8. Please tell us about your upcoming projects and plans in 2021. Our next project in Bangalore, from the Joint Venture we have with Embassy Properties, is located in the 200 acres integrated township – Embassy Edge and is currently under design. Also, in an advanced design stage is the project located in the south of Pune with Nyati Group, our joint venture partner in Maharashtra. The third project will be a Columbia Pacific development in Chennai. 9. Please summarise your 2020 with the help of 5 sets of numbers (in terms of growth, statistics, team etc). One project launched, two joint ventures inked, three times increase in sales velocity, four times increase in organic traffic to our award-winning website and infinite blessings from our residents and their families.

Continue reading “‘Senior Living Communities Are An Amalgam Of Real Estate, Hospitality And Healthcare’, Mohit Nirula”

Senior Housing Outlook for 2021

To logically predict the outlook for the senior living sector in 2021, one must examine the various factors that have been impacting society over the last couple of decades and how the once in a lifetime event of 2020 will lift the senior living sector to a completely changed paradigm. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) are increasingly finding themselves living on their own. This is a function of two distinct sociological changes that have been taking place in the country over the past couple of decades. In the first place, this generation has given their children the advantage of improved access to quality education. This combined with greater employment opportunities across India and other parts of the world have allowed the children to pursue better and more rewarding careers while taking them away from the home city of their parents. At the same time, better medical facilities, a healthier lifestyle, improved savings, and an aspirational approach to living means more and more “seniors” prefer to live independently, pursue their interests and passions with great vigour after their formal retirement and have the means, the time and the energy to do so. However, with time, these seniors increasingly need to depend on external service providers to support and fulfil their daily needs. This applies as much to security, housekeeping and maintenance requirements as it does to travel for socialising and their medical needs. What the seniors need is an enabler. A service provider who fulfils their day-to-day needs; and a living space that provides them with the necessary infrastructure to enjoy a socially engaging lifestyle. The same space and service provider should also be able to address their current and emergent medical needs. Given that physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual needs change over time, the community and services provider should also be able to adapt and enhance support over time. Well designed and serviced senior living communities are the solution to this requirement. Even before 2020, it was estimated that there was a demand for 200,000 homes in senior living communities in urban India. At that time, less than 20,000 homes – half ready-to-move-in and the other half in various stages of development were available in the country. COVID – 19 and the lockdowns in 2020 exposed how ill-prepared we are as a society to look after the needs of our seniors – especially as they become dependent on others for their daily living. Seniors residing alone in their homes – individual villas or in apartments in mixed-family condominiums found themselves completely at the mercy of others. Their children, unable to travel themselves or provide any assistance from afar were equally distraught at their helplessness. When compared against the experience of seniors living on communities designed to fulfil their needs, the contrast was palpable. Good senior living communities were able to ringfence their residents from the external environment. Continued social interaction with like-minded neighbours and friends while maintaining physical distancing ensured there was no loneliness. Round-the-clock availability of medical support provided peace of mind to residents and their children. It is this experience that is now driving the 4x increase in demand and interest as seen by the velocity in sales in new projects, waiting lists for rental or re-purchase at ready to move in communities, organic traffic to website and support of both friends and family of seniors seeking such a solution. Since senior living communities are a complex combination of real estate, hospitality services and healthcare, with their unique and core specializations, one expects to see more collaborative efforts between developers and service providers as they synergise their competencies to develop solutions for residents. Senior living communities, until recently have been confined to areas outside the heart of the cities or in smaller towns / suburbs. These will change with developers seeing them as an important part of the integrated townships that they develop. I am convinced that given the size of the demand, the real need for this solution, and the growing acceptance of the concept, 2021 will see senior living communities shedding their wholly undeserved perception of being a solution for people who have “no option” to being the “preferred solution” for seniors wanting to enjoy life to the fullest. This article is contributed by Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of RoofandFloor.

Continue reading “Senior Housing Outlook for 2021”

Experts go by government assurance that Covid vaccine has undergone rigorous efficacy checks and is absolutely safe

How senior citizen homes in India are addressing the challenges of ageing

Experts are now going by the government assurance that the Covid-19 vaccine has gone through rigorous efficacy checks, and is absolutely safe to take. Just as the country gets ready for the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, vaccinating a huge population in a diverse geography is a challenge. But India has a strong national Pediatric Immunization Programme in place, its amalgamation with a robust election process will help with the vaccine deployment, said Dr Rahul Pandit, director, critical care, Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai & Member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force. Serum Institute of India and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a vector-based and gone through three significant trial stages with 70% efficacy rate. We can emphatically say that the vaccine has gone through rigorous trials, followed processes mandated for its manufacture and rolled out within a year. There is absolutely no cause for worry. However, people with severe drug allergies leading to anaphylaxis reaction and those with compromised immune systems need to seek doctors consent before they take the vaccine, he added. Also, making the vaccine available free of cost for Indians is a huge step taken by the government. Healthcare leaders such as Union minister of health & family welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan strongly advocated for the vaccine, and assured people that the vaccine has gone through rigorous efficacy checks, and is absolutely safe to take, he added. For Dr Kanchan Sanyal, advisor, health and wellness, Columbia Pacific Communities, the Covid-19 vaccine is a primer for senior citizens. Some vaccines have passed the tests, and many are almost there, awaiting regulatory safeguards. The basis of a vaccine is that the body responds to the protein component of the virus and launches an immune response to fight the disease. This immune response must give adequate protection, both immediate and long term. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines employ a new technology using the viral RNA to stimulate an immune response whereas AstraZeneca’s Covishield), Sputnik, Johnson & Johnson are riding on the already used technology of the Zika and Ebola vaccines. From an India stand point, Indian Immunologicals and Bharat Serum Institute’s Covaxin are world leaders in vaccines for polio, cholera, chickenpox vaccines and are using this knowledge and technique for their vaccines. Any vaccine can have side effects, but they are miniscule compared to the good they do to the individual and society. Vaccination is voluntary. We already have successful experiences in vaccines, tried and tested in many diseases, she added.

Continue reading “Experts go by government assurance that Covid vaccine has undergone rigorous efficacy checks and is absolutely safe”

Future of senior living communities

As the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm in March 2020, the senior living industry, too, felt a massive hit, similar to other sectors of the economy. However, as the pandemic has exposed the already existing vulnerabilities faced by our seniors, the segment is likely to witness heightened demand in 2021.  While the outburst of COVID-19 has had its repercussions on practically all areas of human existence, the pandemic specifically highlighted the need to provide a permanent solution to the day-to-day issues faced by our seniors. As India looks forwards to unlock the senior care market, measures to promote senior living and wellbeing have impacted the demand and growth of the segment. Largely perceived to be a game-changer for almost all the sectors of the Indian economy, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the contrast in the experience of the seniors living in their own homes or in apartments within mixed-family communities, against that of the seniors residing in communities designed with their demographic in mind. During the entire 2020, the residents of the senior living communities pursued their passion while participating in wellness and wellbeing programs that continually enabled them to live in a socially engaged yet physically distanced environment. As a consequence, the demand for residential spaces in senior living communities has grown up exponentially in the last one year. This is even more true for communities that have ready-to-move-in units. As per our observation, several potential residents are keen to rent homes or buy homes in these communities on re-sale from the existing owners. Not only ready-to-move-in units, but the demand for projects under development has also gone up by manifold. As concerns about health and wellbeing have taken centre stage amid the Coronavirus spread, there is a paradigm shift in the mindset of the senior citizens. Seniors who were unwilling to stay in these communities earlier are now ready to relocate to these homes. Children staying abroad or in other cities are actively searching for these communities for their parents who stay alone in their home towns. This tectonic shift will change the entire outlook and the future of this sector The increase in the demand for senior living and the yawning gap between the supply and demand of senior living communities have further propelled the real estate developers to examine this category. Therefore, the supply of senior living homes, especially in the outskirts of metros is likely to witness a surge in the coming year. At of now, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities dominate the senior living segment with 60 percent share of ongoing and completed projects from reputed developers. As a trend that is fast picking up the pace, real estate developers are actively looking to partner with service providers that have the necessary expertise, track record and credibility in the fields of hospitality and healthcare. Senior living communities created by the developers of repute and serviced by organisations having proven excellence are expected to gain immense prominence. As the buyers are attesting their affinity for reliable brands in the segment, players are walking the extra mile to provide the customers with a hassle-free buying experience. Since the majority of demand is expected to come from the MIG, NRI, and HNI groups, projects would now be judged based on the quality of services.

Continue reading “Future of senior living communities”

The Pandemic led push to opportunities in the silver economy

Old age homes are often considered negative among Indians. But last few months of pandemic has compelled Indians to seriously reconsider at widespread development of senior living communities. In fact, the unprecedented crisis has prompted many elderly citizens to opt for senior living options provided by government. For instance, a senior citizen couple living at senior community in Jaipur narrates on social media about how they made the right choice to shift in one such community. Unlike them, many elderly people were left to fend for themselves on their own. Many media reports highlighted the ground reality of what elder citizens were going through during early phases of lockdown. For instance, a septuagenarian couple in Lucknow who was living alone experienced many challenges during lockdown period. Managing their own cooking and cleaning without a house help was arduous for them. A survey by Help Age India found that around 80 per cent of elderly citizens didn’t have access to essential items or medicines during the lockdown. On the other hand, there were many cases where family members abandoned elderly people. This certainly has made other senior citizens to rethink their choices of life. This further has translated to spike in the demand for spaces meant for senior living communities. Segregation of senior living as an organised sector Though India is a relatively young nation, the demographics are going to change at some point. A 2018 CII report on the Indian senior living sector projects that Indian elderly population will triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050. While another report by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age India states that the number of senior citizens in India is expected to grow to approximately 173 million by 2026. Venkatesh Srinivasan, Assistant Representative at UNFPA tells that India has 9 per cent of citizens above 60 years of age. He says, “The number is going to grow rapidly over next few years. But more important issue is of vulnerability of elderly people, instead of increase in elderly population.” Only 30 per cent of senior citizens are economically independent, 52 per cent are fully dependent, while 18 per cent are partially dependent on others for their livelihood. Along with this, poor preparation of long post retirement life is also a prominent challenge when comes to formal workforce. In informal sector, savings and social protection also becomes a factor of vulnerability. According to data from various official sources, increase in life expectancy brings burden of diseases, which can be a challenge for future. 30 per cent of people between the age of 60-79 years and 37 per cent of citizens above 80 years of age have acute morbidities. Out of this, 10 per cent of elderly citizens have issues in doing daily activities. Explaining the misery of current scenario, Srinivasan says, “Despite of several schemes for senior citizens, our studies show that knowledge on these programmes is low among beneficiaries. Even the services for elderly and poor people are fragmented which is again an issue. Banking technology has reached Indian household, but older generation finds it difficult in operating online banking. COVID has further aggravated issues in accessing these services.” Help Age India data also says that 6 per cent of senior citizens live alone. These citizens suffer from loneliness and this has been aggravated during the pandemic period. Studies have established that social isolation leads to depression, suicidal tendencies, and a higher chance of increased inflammatory responses among the elderly. This also exacerbates the vulnerability of elderly who are already suffering from psychiatric or neurological conditions. These all facts and statistics reinforce the need for robust senior care infrastructures and effective services in our country. Given elders above 50 years are more prone to the deadly virus; our healthcare systems should focus more on their health. According to a CII report, the demand for senior care facilities usually goes up to 2 lakhs each year. We can say that India is still at the nascent stage of organised senior living and healthcare infrastructure. As we spoke to Mohit Nirula, CEO of Columbia Pacific Communities, he elaborated on how people these days have become open-minded about opting for senior care living and infrastructure. He tells that with vast improvement in medical facilities, medicines, and treatments, life expectancy is on the increase. This gives us a clear idea about how percentage of senior citizens living on their own will increase exponentially. “The surging number will result in organised senior living becoming not just a juvenile industry but a potent solution for a dire problem in the country,” he adds. Mohit Nirula, CEO of Columbia Pacific Communities As far as urban middle class of India is concerned, parents are increasingly staying on their own and away from their children. This largely happens in nuclear families where careers of their children have taken them away from their home city or country leading to self-sufficiency among elders. He further adds that there is a supply of around 10,000 homes in communities designed for seniors. Also, there are an additional 10,000 homes in various stages of design that will be available for registration in next 12–48 months. The senior care market is currently valued at $12 billion. Globally, the elderly care service market is anticipated to become an industry worth of US$ 1,744.6 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 8.31 per cent. Covid-19 reinstates development of home for elders The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the lacunae in this sector and has highlighted the need of more senior living communities in India. This has impacted its demand in a positive way. “COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for dependable and professional services and solutions for seniors,” said Tara Singh Vachani, Executive Chairperson of senior living and care services provider Antara, another prominent player in market. The company project that the demand for senior living and senior care services is likely to pick up as world recuperates from wrath inflicted by the pandemic. Vachani claims, “Currently with over 20 million elders staying alone, the number is slated to increase in next two decades with number of growing senior population.” On the demand front, Antara’s Noida facility received a very encouraging response from customers, indicating that both the concept and brand resonate among people strongly. “We have already sold one-third of our inventory after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. In Dehradun too, where we had already sold 70 per cent of the inventory both enquiries and sales have risen,” stated an official statement. According to Antara’s estimates, the demand for senior living housing units is highest in Delhi-NCR (15,050), followed by Mumbai (12,950), Hyderabad (6,200), and Bengaluru (6,000). She further added that over past few years, tier 2 and 3 markets such as Pune, Goa, Dehradun, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, and Lucknow have witnessed a steady rise in demand. Citing the growth of elderly population as per Census data, she claims, “The upward growth in projections clearly signify the untapped market potential that this segment holds both in metros and tier 1 and tier 2 cities.” Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Columbia Pacific communities are also seeing a significant hike in queries. Nirula tells us that they have a long waiting list of people who wants to get into senior living communities. “We have waiting list for nine communities with future residents waiting to get accommodation that they can rent or purchase on resale. Another facility—the Virtuoso Club in Bangalore is experiencing unprecedented demand. Sales, since September have exceeded. Organic traffic on website has grown four-fold since the pandemic,” Seeing the rising growth, the company has announced two joint ventures in past months and now has projects namely the Embassy Group (Rs 380 crore) in Bangalore and the Nyati Group in Pune in the designing phase. Sectors related to the senior living market such as real estate is witnessing great traction and investments. A recent report by Anarock says that senior living centres have shed old age homes stigma once attached to facilities for the elderly and are now actively opting for a respectable real estate category. According to the report, southern cities of India are considerably ahead with nearly 65 per cent of overall projects for senior citizens located in the region. Prominent senior living hubs in south India include Coimbatore, Puducherry, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kodaikanal, Mysuru, Kochi and Kanchipuram. The report further states that Coimbatore has maximum number of projects numbering around seven. The city seems to have emerged as one of the top retirement havens in India due to excellent healthcare facilities, trained staff availability, and salubrious climate. The other hotspots for senior living in India currently are Pune and Vadodara in the west and Bhiwadi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Dehradun, Faridabad and Kasauli in north. In the western region, Pune is the quintessential pensioner’s paradise and currently has at least six projects exclusively for senior citizens. Another prominent player in the senior living market Ashiana Housing is witnessing increase in enquiries and demands for senior living centric properties. Ankur Gupta, Joint Managing Director of Ashiana Housing expresses his thoughts on a blog about the demand triggered by the pandemic. He writes, enquiries for homes, both for rental and purchase have seen the upward curve during COVID-19. “Real estate developers are also looking to diversify their portfolio and offer a more differentiated product mix within their integrated townships. Hence, there is an increased desire to partner with service providers who have the expertise in designing, marketing, serving and providing the healthcare needs for residents of a senior living community,” he adds further. Ashiana Housing has its state-of-the-art senior living facilities named Ashiana Nirmay in Bhiwadi, Ashiana Shubham in Chennai and Ashiana Utsav in Lavasa – Pune. Other factors leading to growth of sector It is clear that outbreak of the pandemic has increased demand for senior living market. But, it is not the only factor behind this gradually increasing trend of shifting to senior homes. One of the most prominent factors that have led to growth of the sector is growing desire of elders to gain their independence where education has a large role to play. Elaborating it more, Nirula tells that Indians have always believed in education is the most important contributor for upliftment living standards. “As a consequence, pursuit of careers and availability of opportunities has taken children away from their parents and their home city. The fact is parents are already staying away from their children. Further, communities designed in accordance with requirement of seniors provide an ideal solution to all their needs. The contrast in the experience of seniors living on their own vis-à-vis those staying in senior living communities has further fuelled the demand for homes within senior living communities in the country,” he says. Another major reason behind consideration of retirement homes is the need to downsize as a senior citizen approaches retirement. Studies elucidate that baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) are mostly driving this trend as they seek more urban style of living. The appeal of amenities and mixed-use development as a service and added component of senior homes are also attracting consumers more. Factors such as better environment, availability of large land parcels, and enhanced access to healthcare are also driving the demand for senior living homes in tier 2 and 3 cities. Nirula further tells us that the potential residents of a senior living facility have complete clarity in their expectations from a senior living community. “More than a home, what they seek is expertise possessed by staff and credibility enjoyed by the service provider,” he adds. While the quality of the asset is taken for granted, future communities will need to be able to deliver on design and daily execution of wellness and wellbeing programmes. Columbia Pacific’s promise of ‘positive ageing’ seeks to deliver that. It an approach that allows residents to embrace life and lead a healthier life. Challenges persisting in future Though the elder care communities from US and Europe were under surveillance after they became epi-centres for the contagion, India’s old age homes and senior communities staved off the virus so far. A study by Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar on three states namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan reveal that old age homes in India recorded least number of deaths from coronavirus. Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, Director of Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar and author of the study stated, “The study indicates that older persons in care homes are somewhat protected from the new coronavirus infection in large part. This is because of protective measures being taken, which includes decongesting homes and sending residents home wherever possible. It also includes stopping all visitors, giving attendants temporary accommodation within the home if needed, sanitisation of all items from outside, and frequent sanitisation of the premises.” The apex body of the sector, The Association of Senior Living India (ASLI), also played a significant role in spreading awareness and keeping communities safe by sharing guidelines and practices to keep senior members out of danger. Although sector has been receiving positive trends, the industry still has miles to go. Considering the large demand-supply gap, there will be occupancy pressure despite the projected growth. Experts opine that construction depends upon population and demand. The need for more economic and customizable senior living options for middle class and lower income class will still continue to be a challenge. Traditionally, most of the senior homes and investors were focused on upper class income and middle-income groups. But others generally couldn’t afford the cost. Overall, occupancy pressures and saturated markets are causing senior living providers to take a serious look at how they can differentiate themselves. Gupta of Ashiana Housing in his blog suggests that developers and players in the sector should focus on designs and infrastructure, services, and support infrastructure. Also, it should provide hassle-free living, in-house meal services, and services that give active lifestyle. A report by the International Council of Active Aging (ICAA) states that the pandemic has presented the industry with a rare opportunity to reassess the sector of senior living. Now that the initial phase of the pandemic is over, stakeholders in this sector are looking forward for the bright future of this sector.

Continue reading “The Pandemic led push to opportunities in the silver economy”

EXCLUSIVE | Mohit Nirula, Columbia Pacific Communities: The year of gratitude [Year-Ender 2020]

Mohit Nirula, CEO – Columbia Pacific Communities, started his career in hospitality in 1986. Columbia Pacific Communities, Mohit’s second organization in a career spanning over 30 years allowed him to bring to the fore all the skills that he has gained over the years. In this exclusive piece, Mohit shares how the year gone by affected him personally and professionally. He says that despite the challenges, 2020 was a great teacher he will always be grateful to. The word ‘grateful’ is defined by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary as ‘feeling or showing thanks because someone has done something kind for you or has done as you asked  – grateful (to somebody) (for something)’ 2020 was a year that gave me time to take pause, to introspect, to understand what is truly important for me as an individual, a family person, a professional, and a leader of a team. As someone who turned 55 in 2020, I have more years behind than in front of me. I should have done myself and all whom I have impacted in the past, a favor by gaining this wisdom a lot earlier in life. That said, I apologize to all who suffered the pre-2020 me and hope those who meet and interact with me hereafter, will experience a kinder and more mellow me: Mohit Nirula I should share that as someone who turned 55 in 2020, I have more years behind than in front of me. I should have done myself and all whom I have impacted in the past, a favor by gaining this wisdom a lot earlier in life. That said, I apologize to all who suffered the pre-2020 me and hope those who meet and interact with me hereafter, will experience a kinder and more mellow me. In my personal life, my wife’s and my parents are based in Delhi NCR, we have our work and home in Bangalore, and both our daughters are based in London. Weeks into the lockdown, as I saw people lose loved ones without even being able to be by their side, or people lose jobs for no fault of their own, or learnt about people trudging hundreds of kilometers towards the the sanctuary of their homes, I realized that much of what one wants or desires is actually of no real value and what one truly needs, one already has, and takes for granted. To know that one’s parents and children are safe, that one’s livelihood is secure and a roof over the head and meals on the table are not a concern, is all that one needs from life. Everything else is nice, but not essential. As professionals, we are hugely loyal to one’s organization, and well should we be. That said, one must understand that our first and truly unshakeable loyalty must be towards those for whom we are both indispensable and irreplaceable — our families. The company one works for and the returns — compensation is only one of these — one receives are the means that allow us to fulfill our responsibility towards our families. And it is for this reason, we should do our best to serve the organization’s objectives. The company one works for and the returns — compensation is only one of these — one receives are the means that allow us to fulfill our responsibility towards our families. And it is for this reason, we should do our best to serve the organization’s objectives: Mohit Nirula When one is fortunate to work with a company and a leader whose objectives and means to achieve those objectives are in alignment with one’s own, this relationship, whilst cherished and strong, is still primarily transactional – a fact experienced by many in 2020 when the rubber of the cash flow wheel met the tarmac. All of us at Columbia Pacific Communities, India’s largest provider of service and care to communities designed for seniors, are fortunate to have promoters who were rock solid in their support. This allowed us to ensure that we were able to do all that was necessary to ring-fence our communities and ensure that our residents – all senior citizens  – were kept protected from the external environment. Their support also ensured that we did not lose even one team member or reduce any salaries on account of the pandemic. We were also able to support our vendors and related stakeholders during what was an equally difficult time for them. To have the security of steadfast promoters and the blessings of all who we work with, and those who reside in, Columbia Pacific Communities, is more than one could have asked for. Much before 2020, the company philosophy that we had established as a guiding principle for all our interactions, was: ‘Unconditional Love, Respect and Care’. We asked each of our team members to ensure that all interactions with our residents be measured against this promise. A lot of what we have accumulated in the quest to ‘develop’ or become ‘civilized’ has been at the cost of these most human qualities of love, respect, and care: Mohit Nirula 2020 told me that this credo need not be restricted to just the workplace. It should be a way of being – for our interactions with all – human, animal, society, nature, and the planet. A lot of what we have accumulated in the quest to ‘develop’ or become ‘civilized’ has been at the cost of these most human qualities of love, respect, and care. 2020 for me was a great teacher. And for this, I will always be grateful. Now on to 2021 — with unconditional love, respect, and care for all.

Continue reading “EXCLUSIVE | Mohit Nirula, Columbia Pacific Communities: The year of gratitude [Year-Ender 2020]”

Experts go by government assurance that Covid vaccine has undergone rigorous efficacy checks and is absolutely safe

retirement homes in india

Experts are now going by the government assurance that the Covid-19 vaccine has gone through rigorous efficacy checks, and is absolutely safe to take. Just as the country gets ready for the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, vaccinating a huge population in a diverse geography is a challenge. But India has a strong national Pediatric Immunization Programme in place, its amalgamation with a robust election process will help with the vaccine deployment, said Dr Rahul Pandit, director, critical care, Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai & Member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force. Serum Institute of India and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a vector-based and gone through three significant trial stages with 70% efficacy rate. We can emphatically say that the vaccine has gone through rigorous trials, followed processes mandated for its manufacture and rolled out within a year. There is absolutely no cause for worry. However, people with severe drug allergies leading to anaphylaxis reaction and those with compromised immune systems need to seek doctors consent before they take the vaccine, he added. Also, making the vaccine available free of cost for Indians is a huge step taken by the government. Healthcare leaders such as Union minister of health & family welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan strongly advocated for the vaccine, and assured people that the vaccine has gone through rigorous efficacy checks, and is absolutely safe to take, he added. For Dr Kanchan Sanyal, advisor, health and wellness, Columbia Pacific Communities, the Covid-19 vaccine is a primer for senior citizens. Some vaccines have passed the tests, and many are almost there, awaiting regulatory safeguards. The basis of a vaccine is that the body responds to the protein component of the virus and launches an immune response to fight the disease. This immune response must give adequate protection, both immediate and long term. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines employ a new technology using the viral RNA to stimulate an immune response whereas AstraZeneca’s Covishield), Sputnik, Johnson & Johnson are riding on the already used technology of the Zika and Ebola vaccines. From an India stand point, Indian Immunologicals and Bharat Serum Institute’s Covaxin are world leaders in vaccines for polio, cholera, chickenpox vaccines and are using this knowledge and technique for their vaccines. Any vaccine can have side effects, but they are miniscule compared to the good they do to the individual and society. Vaccination is voluntary. We already have successful experiences in vaccines, tried and tested in many diseases, she added.

Continue reading “Experts go by government assurance that Covid vaccine has undergone rigorous efficacy checks and is absolutely safe”

Senior Living Plan Should be On Everyone’s List Irrespective Of Age: Mohit Nirula, CEO-Columbia Pacific Communities

India currently is growing towards becoming a country with more number of ageing people. The senior population in India is growing fast with over 20 million elders who stay alone, and the number is slated to rise further in the next two decades. However, when it comes to organized senior care and senior care services, India is still at a nascent stage. The Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent challenges have only brought the immediate need of senior living all the more. From inability to access basic necessities during the lockdown to losing out their personal space due to remote working, the pandemic presented many challenges to both seniors living alone as well those in mixed family environments. Not to forget the loneliness that came along with living in isolation during pandemic. Realty Buzz IN got an opportunity to speak to Mohit Nirula, CEO of the Columbia Pacific Communities (CPC), India’s largest senior living community operating in five cities and nine locations across south India, on the need of senior living in the country and other related aspects. Mohit Nirula, CEO of the Columbia Pacific Communities (CPC) Senior living always had a very negative connotation in Indian society. Please elaborate how and why is the perception changing now? Children serving and looking after the needs of parents in their old age is a cultural and social norm in India. Consequently, “old-age homes” gained a sometimes undeserved reputation of being the abode of those elderly who had been abandoned by their children. It is not surprising that both parents and children have balked at the idea of considering a community designed for seniors because of the societal impression associated with it. With the passage of time, the urban middle class India is now subject to many societal and sociological changes. These include better health care, longer life expectancy, a smaller family size, children empowered by education and free to pursue their careers and aspirations outside their home cities. As a consequence, an increasingly large number of parents are already living alone and independently. They are physically capable, financially independent and free from all their responsibilities. They now wish a solution that allows them to offload the responsibility of day to day chores to a single service provider while liberating themselves to pursue their passions and interests. Senior living communities now provide both the parents and the children the confidence of reliable support and the consequent peace of mind they need. What is the demand-supply mismatch you see in the senior living segment in India? The CII report of 2018 on Senior Living estimates a need for 200,000 homes in senior living communities in urban India. The current supply is 10,000 homes with another 10,000 in various stages of development. The long gestation period and construction time of such communities and the rapidly growing population in the 55 years + demographic implies this mismatch will only grow in the short to medium term. What are some of the basic amenities that are must in a senior living community? A well designed and well-served Senior Living Community should ensure that all day to day necessities of residents are fulfilled by the service team. Secondly, the service provider should have the expertise and knowledge to devise and conduct a wellness and wellbeing program that keep residents physically active, mentally alert and intellectually stimulated in a socially engaging environment. Finally, the medical and paramedical support should be able to address the current and evolving needs of the residents as they age over time. Why should someone choose Columbia Pacific Communities? What extra features or services does it offer? Residents at a Columbia Pacific community will benefit from its four-decade long experience and expertise in this field. This experience is reflected in the design of our communities, it is manifest in our philosophy of “Positive Ageing” that helps our residents to live healthier for longer by disconnecting age from ageing. Finally, our association with Columbia Asia Hospitals as our Healthcare partners brings to our residents the expertise of the best professionals in health care – in the communities and at their hospitals. In the current unprecedented times of the pandemic, do you see a surge in the demand for senior-centric living arrangements?   There is an unprecedented increase in demand – both for ready to move-in homes in the nine communities that we serve and at the communities under development. We have a waiting list of potential residents who are keen to rent or buy on resale homes at our existing communities. There is also a 4x increase in organic traffic to our website and a marked reduction in the age group of potential buyers for the communities under development. Increasingly, we see buyers in the age group of 50 – 60 approaching us individually and with friends in their pursuit of a lifestyle that liberates them and their children from worrying about each other. With the changing Indian demographic, do you suggest everyone to have a senior living plan well in place for the future? I do believe that “senior living plans” bring in an element of age and ageing that is quite unnecessary. In my opinion, a lifestyle that is liberating and an arrangement that allows residents to be the best of themselves is extremely desirable and something that should be on every person’s list of aspirations, irrespective of their age.

Continue reading “Senior Living Plan Should be On Everyone’s List Irrespective Of Age: Mohit Nirula, CEO-Columbia Pacific Communities”

Common health problems in women over 65 years

retirement homes in india

By – Dr. Kanchan Sanyal – Advisor, Health and Wellness, Columbia Pacific Communities As seniors grow older, the risk for a number of health concerns increases. While family history, lifestyle, social inequality and health history all play a role in determining which diseases and conditions might affect the seniors, gender can also be an indicator of what to expect and how to move towards positive ageing. Senior women are at greater risk than men for many conditions and are affected differently by many diseases that impact both sexes. Older women die of the same conditions as men, including heart diseases, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, women often face multiple chronic conditions that affect their daily lives such as diabetes, hypertension or arthritis. Women may, on average, live longer than men but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthier! The common health problems faced by senior women are – Heart Diseases – We all know that once the protection of the female hormones is removed after menopause, women are at as much risk of developing heart diseases as men. By age 70, women are at the same risk of heart diseases as men. Osteoporosis – About one in three women between the age of 75 and 85 years has osteoporosis. Cancer – Cancer is another leading cause of death among senior women. About half of the newly diagnosed breast cancer cases are in women over the age of 60, while the incidence of ovarian cancer peaks when women are in their 70s. Stroke – Stroke and its consequences are common in senior women. The sequels of stroke are devastating for a woman physically, mentally and socially Diabetes – Women with diabetes have a higher risk for heart diseases, blindness and depression than men do. Alzheimer’s disease – We do not have statistics in India yet, but we do know that women are twice as much likely to move towards this debilitating disease than men. Depression – Twice as many senior women are affected by depression than men. Arthritis – More than half of all seniors over the age of 65 have arthritis, and women are more prone to it than men. Obesity – A large per cent of women above the ages of 65 are considered obese, putting them at risk for several diseases. Much of this has to do with a lack of mobility and activity, and also their lifestyle. However, the gender dynamics of ageing are worrying. An older woman has to, at each step, face inequalities related to health, security and participation.  Stereotyping and misconceptions portray them as a burden or as invisible. On a daily basis, and around the world, older women make life better for their peers and succeeding generations, in both small and big ways. It is time to celebrate those contributions and provide ageing women with complete human rights; a positive quality of life, love, and care throughout their life course; and an environment that supports positive ageing.

Continue reading “Common health problems in women over 65 years”

Senior care comes of age in Covid-19 era

Elder Relations Managers is a new, growing category of white-collar jobs After a three-decade career with an international hospitality group in different geographies, when Mohit Nirula decided to take the leadership mantle of a senior living community in India, his then prospective boss had one piece of advice for him: “India may not be culturally ready for the concept (of senior living) for a very long time but the country is circumstantially ready for it.” Three years down the line, as the CEO of the Columbia Pacific Communities (CPC) —- India’s largest senior living community operating in five cities and nine locations across south India — Nirula could not agree more. It is studying ways to extend affordable health insurance to the middle income group The Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent challenges have only increased that ‘circumstance’ for many households. From inability to access basic necessities during the lockdown to losing out their personal space due to remote working, the pandemic presented many challenges to both seniors living alone as well those in mixed family environments. Fear, anxiety and trauma increased. “Loneliness is the world’s fastest accelerator of aging. There needs to be a creation of communities where people remain socially engaged and when they do that, they will also remain physically fit, mentally alert and intellectually stimulated,” says Nirula. Demand rises Not surprisingly, the demand for both Columbia Pacific’s existing and ready to move communities went up by four times as compared to pre-Covid times. It was not the only one to witness this trend. Ashiana Housing, a pioneer in senior living communities in India, also saw the demand and enquiries for its properties going up manifold. “One large change that took place was that earlier the Next Of Kin (NOKs) were not excited about their parents moving into a senior living but now we saw lot of enquiries from the NOKs,” said Ankur Gupta, Joint Managing Director, Ashiana Housing. Ashiana currently has sprawling senior living communities in Maraimalai Nagar (Chennai), Bhiwadi (Delhi-NCR), Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Lavasa (Pune). It is planning to launch four more sizable projects with 500-1,000 units each over the next two years to cater to the growing demand. In a recent report, real estate services company ANAROCK said senior living homes are shedding the stigma of ‘old age homes’ to become a respectable real estate category, and this has accelerated in Covid-19 times. P-E investments Significantly, private equity firm Lumis Partners has identified age care as a segment of interest and invested in two start-ups in this space. One is Emoha (an anagram of at home), which offers care at their own homes for elders. Another is Epoch, which is setting up external care homes for senior citizens, especially those with dementia. Also, during the pandemic, Emoha hired over 50 Elder Relations Managers (ERMs) — a new category of white collar jobs that it expects to grow.  

Continue reading “Senior care comes of age in Covid-19 era”

GET IN TOUCH

We hope everything you’ve seen and read about our senior living communities interests you. You might have a couple of (hundred) questions to ask - about the community, amenities, scheduling a tour, or just about the library! Please leave your details here, and we’ll call you back.

Bengaluru

2999, 12th A Main Rd,
HAL 2nd Stage Indiranagar,
Bengaluru - 560008
Phone: +91 80 4018 1000