• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Caregiving industry gains traction as ‘japa’ wave drives demand

Caregiving industry

The mass exodus of Nigerians to foreign countries, commonly called ‘japa’ (a Yoruba word for “run quickly”), is creating opportunities for caregivers and increasing the demand for homecare, especially for geriatrics.

The mass emigration of young Nigerians abroad is gradually solidifying the homecare role in the country, especially for the elderly as many seek care for their aged parents and relatives left behind, BusinessDay found.

Gbeminiyi Laolu-Adewale, CEO at Full Circle Geriatric Care Services, said Nigerian relocating abroad are now seeking and willing to pay for geriatric services for the aged ones they are leaving behind.

“A lot of our young people are leaving the shores of Nigeria in their numbers. What this means indirectly is that there are a lot of abandoned, lonely, and very dependent seniors who require care, and whose children are gone,” she said.

“This is what is currently fuelling the demand for the services of caregivers as many of them seek home care for their aged ones. We are seeing more demand for our services, especially since the ‘japa’ wave started,” Laolu-Adewale added.

She noted that adding to the high demand for caregivers is the growing rate of working women. “Before now, most women were home to nurture the children and seniors but all that has changed as most of them now are working,” she said.

“This creates a gap because people who would have cared for the children or aged are very busy, leaving no one on the ground to do it.”

Africa’s most populous nation has the highest number of older people in the continent, and the 19th highest across the globe, with the population of Nigerians aged 65 and older projected to triple by 2050, according to a 2022 article published by Gerontologist, the official journal of the Gerontological Society of America.

According to the Population Reference Bureau and National Council on Aging, Nigeria’s elderly population is increasing rapidly. About 5.9 million Nigerians are aged 65 and above, records from the centre show, with more than half of the population battling illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and arthritis that leave them bedridden in most cases and in need of assistance, experts say.

“We had to hire a caregiver for my dad when I got a job offer that made me relocate to the United States,” Rotimi Daro, a Nigerian working in a tech firm in the US, told BusinessDay.

“My dad had a partial stroke and requires a lot of care. We can’t leave everything for my mum who is 68 years old,” he said. “My immediate elder sister had relocated out of the country five years ago and my brother who was supporting my parents just relocated to Canada, so we have no one to leave them with other than a caregiver.”

Nigeria’s caregiving industry, which is still at its infant stage and largely informal and unregulated, was estimated to be worth $9 billion in 2019 and projected to triple by 2021, according to Chika Madubuko, founder of Greymate Care – a startup using tech to disrupt the country’s homecare industry by connecting clients with vetted caregivers.

“Taking care of my mother has been challenging for us since me and my siblings relocated abroad. My mum refuses to go with us; she wants to stay in Nigeria, so we had to hire a caregiver who takes care of her,” Esesosa Okoduwa, a UK-based Nigerian, said.

“She has high blood pressure; we can’t afford to leave without providing someone that will take care of her and ensure she checks her blood pressure regularly.”

Chika Okechukwu, an analyst at a consulting firm in Ikeja, said it’s challenging for her family in taking care of their aged parents as everyone is busy with work plus several hours spent commuting, which remains unaccounted for.

“My parents stay five bus stops from where I stay but I still struggle to support them by taking care of my mum, who is 70 years old and suffers from arthritis, which makes it difficult for her to move around without support,” Adenike Adegoroye, an accountant in a top engineering firm in Lagos, said.

“We had to seek the services of a care provider to support my dad in taking care of my mum,” he added.

Some Nigerians are already tapping opportunities in the industry by investing in retirement and care homes. BusinessDay findings showed several old people’s homes have sprung up in major cities across Nigeria, though only a few of the available centres possess the capacity to deliver near excellent quality care.

Lagos has the highest number of homes for the elderly, with over eight registered ones, followed by Ibadan (Oyo) and Edo State, where pockets of them exist.

In Lagos, these homes, distributed across Yaba, Ikorodu, Lekki, Ogudu, and Mushin, among others, are largely private sector-led initiatives. They include Rockgardens Homes and Winiseph Care Home, with bills running into over N1 million yearly.

Globally, the home healthcare market is estimated to reach $634.9 billion by 2030, according to Grand View Research, Inc.