KARACHI: The Vocational Training Institute (TAFF-VTI) of the TAF Foundation is all set to launch the first-of-its-kind Elderly Care Assistant program, for which TAFF has partnered with Aga Khan University (AKU), for the development of the curriculum and training material. The program will ensure that all trainees acquire the knowledge, skills and attitude required to provide basic care for an elderly individual. The program also covers instruction in basic principles of work and medical ethics along with the identification of common illnesses in the elderly and how these impact their daily functioning. “The availability of qualified personnel for elderly care is the need of the hour in our society today”, said Aatiqa Lateef, CEO of TAF Foundation, adding “this groundbreaking initiative is about respect for our elders, about caring for them as our moral duty, and about providing compassionate women with the opportunity to acquire specialized training and a sustainable livelihood”. The Elderly Care Course offers hands-on practice and exposure to its students through an On-the-Job Training (OJT) component that is built into the program through collaboration with the Holy Family Hospital, which is one of the most trusted and prestigious hospitals in Karachi. The Hospital will also provide support for the medical assessment of the candidates prior to the commencement of the program. Twenty students between the ages of 20 and 45 years, and with minimum education of Matriculation, have been recruited for the pilot batch. Their training will include understanding of the basics of common geriatric syndromes by an experienced and qualified faculty. The curriculum also includes modules related to soft skills such as Legal Empowerment, Financial Empowerment and Professionalism & Ethics. Pakistan has a fast growing aged population, which could touch 45 million by 2025. It already has close to 18 million people aged 60 and above. A generation or so ago, the elderly were taken care of by younger family members as the joint family system was widely prevalent. However today, in most families the children have moved out of joint family system or migrated to other countries, leaving a large population of elderly people who need specialized care. Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2017.