Elderly care to be more professional in Shanghai

Over 260 nursing staff and 38 people planning to work in the area began receiving professional education on elderly care at the newly unveiled civil affairs college.

Nursing the elderly took center stage at the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau and Shanghai Open University's special college to improve civil service in the city.

Shanghai has the highest rate rate of an aging population in China.

Shanghai Civil Affairs College has inaugurated the first class of 299 students who are seeking junior college diplomas in professional elderly care and management.

They will take courses in branches of the university in 15 districts of Shanghai to learn basic knowledge about modern management, geriatric sociology, elderly physiology, psychology, nutrition, disease prevention and health keeping, according to Yuan Wen, president of Shanghai Open Univeristy.

The students will also learn skills in taking care of elderly  people's daily lives, diseases, rehabilitation, security and emergency rescue.

Courses on laws and morals in elderly care and related management are also compulsory to improve skills in communicating with seniors and their relatives and the ability to deliver services with respect and compassion.

The students' education will be connected with requirements of vocational qualifications, professional certificates and licenses in the industry.

"The establishment of the civil affairs college and the elderly service class are emergent as there is a large shortage in service providers with an increasingly aging population," said Yuan.

According to a report released by the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, the permanent aged population in Shanghai will top 5.7 million by 2020, increasing the demand for a much larger and higher quality elderly care service.

There are currently about 50,000 nursing staff in Shanghai, but the government plans to add 78,000 by 2020.

"The majority of the current nursing staff are relatively old but poorly educated and not specialized enough," said Zhao Lijuan, director of the bureau's center of elderly undertakings.

"Their own shortcomings also resulted in their low social status, income and career stability," she added.

Zhao also said that it was an urgent task to cultivate nursing staff with strong professional capability and healthy psychology, as well as a high moral integrity and education level to meet the needs of people.

But many young students of elderly care do not go on to work in the area. Among those who do, 30 percent left after a year, 50 percent in two years and 70 percent in three years.

As a result Shanghai Civil Affairs College mainly focuses on nursing staff who are on the job to try to improve their education levels and professional skills.

Among the first class of 299 students, 261 are from 158 nursing houses in the city and 38 are individuals who want to work in the elderly service industry.

“It’s not easy to take good care of old people.” said 40-year-old Cai Jianqiao, a former nursing staff worker. “You need not only patience, but also professional knowledge and skills.”

Cai said she quit the job and became a saleswoman several years ago due to a lack of the needed skills.

“When I heard there would be a class for professional education, I applied for it immediately,” she said. “I wish to work in nursing houses after graduation.”

The college will expand its education in other civil services and work out standards of different kinds of services, said Yuan.

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