Deputies call for quality home solutions for the elderly

Chen Huizhi
A number of deputies to Shanghai People's Congress have made suggestions for improvements in the government subsidized home convenience projects for the elderly population.
Chen Huizhi

The city’s subsidies for elderly residents to purchase safety solutions for their homes are welcome, but some problems still need to be addressed, deputies to the Shanghai People’s Congress said in their suggestions to the government.

The city’s bureau of civil affairs announced a one-year pilot program for improving home facilities for the elderly residents at the end of 2019. These included the installation of handles, anti-slip mats, gas and fire sensors and other smart convenience and health devices in their homes. 

The program, which was introduced in six subdistricts, received applications from 683 families by November 15 last year. Low-income and highly immobile people and those with no children are entitled to subsidies of up to 3,000 yuan (US$463) each.

Xu Liping, general engineer at SGIDI Engineering Consulting Group Co and a member of the committee for urban construction and environment protection of the Shanghai People’s Congress, took part in an inspection of the implementation of the program at the end of the last year.

She suggested that more targeted solutions should be provided to different types of residences.

“Such projects are more costly in old neighborhoods with less spacious rooms and more complex piping plans, while in some neighborhoods several families share kitchens and bathrooms,” she said.

The users are also concerned about the quality of the projects as various companies are involved in the program, and it often requires professional knowledge in furnishing homes for elderly people, Xu said.

She suggested that the government should more closely follow through the projects to ensure their quality.

Xu also called for more subsidies for some elderly applicants to the program.

“At present, 70 percent of the applicants opted for plans that cost over 10,000 yuan, and this means that if they’re entitled to subsidies they still need to pay at least 7,000 yuan from their pockets, which is unaffordable to some low-income people,” she said.

Ma Liejian, vice secretary of CPC Shanghai’s economy and information technology work committee, suggested that home convenience projects for the elderly population should be standardized to improve quality and reduce costs.

Also, she pointed out that the senior care appliances available in the Chinese market lag behind in some developed countries both in variety and in quality. The government should support the research and development of care and rehabilitation appliances and include them in medical insurance.

There were about 5.2 million elderly residents in Shanghai as of the end of 2019, accounting for one-third of the permanent residents of the city, according to official statistics. About 90 percent of them are expected to be taken care of at home.

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