City makes significant progress in elderly-care services

Chen Huizhi
Shanghai is taking further steps to address needs of the targeted group of people such as elderly services at their doorsteps and more efficient home refitting for seniors.
Chen Huizhi

Shanghai is improving its elderly-care services and will take steps to make them more accessible and diversified for residents, the government told the city's legislators on Wednesday.

Members of the standing committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, the city's legislature, held a hearing with representatives of government bodies on Wednesday which was themed on the implementation of the city's law on elderly-care services which took effect in March.

Shanghai has been proactively dealing with the aging of its population over the past decade with one in three local residents, or about 5.3 million, over 60 years old, as of the end of last year. The government envisions that 90 percent of elderly residents will spend their old age at home, 7 percent of them at facilities in local communities and 3 percent in elderly homes.

The current number of beds in elderly homes already accounts for 3 percent of the local elderly population. As of the end of September, about 140,000 such beds were in operation with 76 percent occupied, according to Jiang Rui, director of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

"About 90 percent of all beds in central districts have been occupied, 20 percentage points higher than in suburban districts," she said. "This was partially the result of the fast expansion of elderly-care services in the suburbs in recent years."

Next up, the government will take further steps to address the discrepancy in the availability of elderly-care beds in central and suburban districts, answering calls from the public.

"We will take the opportunity of the construction of the five 'new cities' in suburban Shanghai to draw more elderly residents to spend their old days in elderly homes there," she said. "The living conditions there will be attractive to urban residents."

Meanwhile, the government has lost no time in sourcing space in local communities for elderly-care facilities, such as accommodation, day care centers and public canteens, according to a report presented to the legislature by the bureau.

"We will further diversify the functions of community elderly service centers by equipping them with health care services among others," Jiang said.

Answering questions from members of the standing committee about difficulty in accessing elderly-care services, Jiang said more community elderly-care service centers will be built to ensure access within 15 minutes from home for the targeted group of residents.

For elderly people who spend their old days at home, the government has sponsored home refitting programs for 1,000 elderly families annually for eight consecutive years prior to this year, and about 5,700 more households had benefited from the project as of the end of September, according to the government. Another 20,000 households will be covered by the project by 2025.

To address the question of the quality and efficiency of the implementation of the project, Jiang said efforts are already under way.

"The length of time from application to approval for the project from users has been reduced from three weeks to within 10 days in the latter half of this year, and users are now able to choose from more refitting items to tailor to their specific needs," she said.

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