Former factories turned into care homes

Disused premises in the downtown area are being given a new lease of life to solve a shortage of facilities for the city's growing elderly population. 
Former factories turned into care homes
Ti Gong

A birthday celebration is held at the Huicheng seniors' welfare house on Minzhi Road in Yangpu District.

Former factory premises in the city are being converted into senior care homes to solve a shortage of services and to put idle industrial space to good use. 

Six buildings in Yangpu District, the city's former downtown industrial base, have become care homes since 2016, with 1,500 beds available for the north downtown area's increasing population of elderly citizens.

Another project this year will turn the former Shanghai No. 1 Woolen Sweater Factory on Pingliang Road into a senior care center, the district government said on Wednesday.

"The downtown area is short of land resources, but Yangpu's century-old industrial heritage provides a solution," said Ming Yi, director of the district's civil affairs bureau.

The scheme will help Yangpu add 10,800 senior care beds by 2020 to cater to the demand of its 392,000 residents above the age of 60 — 36.5 percent of the district's total population.

Across the city, there are 4.84 million people aged 60 or above, 33.2 percent of permanent residents.

At the Huicheng seniors' welfare house on Minzhi Road, 154 seniors live in shared apartments renovated from former warehouses of the state-owned Liangyou Group.

The care home on the Huangpu River has some 440 beds and a separate building for disabled seniors who require more intensive care, said Zhang Liming, the home's director.

The monthly charge, including care, food, accommodation and medical services, is around 4,000 yuan (US$590), a bit lower than other downtown senior care centers because renovation costs much less than a new building, Zhang said.

The 96-year-old mother of Wu Yongqing, a project manager who often needs to work abroad, has lived at the home for five years. She has Alzheimer's.

"At home, we had to hire three maids to take care of my mother around the clock," Wu said. "Now I only need to visit frequently and feel reassured when working abroad."

Wu said the home has a large activity space for seniors, while the riverside location ensures better air quality.

Former factories turned into care homes

Senior citizens write calligraphy at the Huicheng seniors' welfare house.

Former factories turned into care homes
Yang Jian / SHINE

The three-story Wujiaochang community senior care service center used to be an investment promotion office for the subdistrict.

Challenges

Yangpu's Huangpu River waterfront was once home to the city's earliest water, gas, energy, textile and shipbuilding plants. Most of the industries have been relocated amid rapid urban development. Some of the old buildings have been converted into offices or commercial complexes, while others remain empty.

Ming said that there were challenges in converting these old structures. The first involved rounds of negotiations with the land owners, mostly state-owned enterprises.

Secondly, the old structures had to be reinforced and renovated to meet stringent fire safety standards.

"The district government has made a bespoke plan for each of the conversion projects," she said. "Social funds and organizations are also welcome to participate."

Some government buildings have been utilized. The former investment promotion office of Wujiaochang Subdistrict, for instance, is now a senior care center.

The three-story center on Guoding Road W. includes 40 senior care beds, a daycare center, a canteen and clinics as well as a large terrace garden. It has 20 residents and provides services to more than 3,000 elderly people living in nearby neighborhoods, according to the subdistrict.

Former factories turned into care homes
Ti Gong

Senior citizens enjoy a manicure at the Wujiaochang community senior care service center.

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