City activates networks to protect vulnerable groups

Hu Min
Authorities say elderly citizens living alone, critically ill patients, the disabled and destitute families need society's extreme care to get through the pandemic.
Hu Min

Shanghai is weaving a solid protection network for its most vulnerable groups to help them get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include elderly citizens living alone, critically ill patients, the disabled and destitute families.

Because they are the "silent minority," they need extreme care from society during the lockdown period, the city's civil affairs officials said.

Authorities have beefed up efforts to identify these people, hear their voices and deliver support to help them.

Civil affairs officials at district level are learning about the needs of the city's elderly population, particularly those living alone, with financial difficulties, or lacking care temporarily after their family members are quarantined, and also their health conditions.

An online-plus-offline service system has been established to also provide psychological comfort to them.

Community-based canteens remain open to deliver hot meals to seniors, and neighborhood committees and volunteers are dispensing medicines for the elderly under lockdown.

Since March 28, more than 550 nursing staffers in the city have continued providing services at elderly people's homes and have reached out to more than 1,600 seniors.

Between March 28 and April 9, about 45,000 counsellors and volunteers of senior ages have served under an "old partner" plan for about 350,000 elderly citizens of advanced age who live alone.

During the pandemic, the challenge of how to tackle the needs of the disabled has also been a test of the city's refined management levels and a bridge has been established.

Disabled persons' federations citywide have been keeping in frequent contact with needy disabled people to learn of their demands.

To solve an urgent need through this process, some people suffering from spinal cord injuries have received paper diapers via the city's commerce commission and disabled persons' federations after their regular delivery channels collapsed due to the pandemic.

More than 1,000 cartons of milk donated by a convenience store chain were delivered to the disabled at Yuemiao Disabled Foster Home on April 8.

The city's 12345 hotline, a 24-hour public-service hotline, has provided sign language video services for the disabled who seek help.

Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation said it would step up efforts to help the disabled who are confirmed COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic cases if they encounter difficulties in communication during quarantine and treatment.

The federation will also enhance communication with e-commerce platforms to supply food, drug and assisting devices for the group to ensure their normal life.

For people with financial difficulties, various sources such as neighborhood committees and volunteers have been mobilized to learn about their living conditions and ensure their medical demands and daily necessities are met.

In Huangpu District, destitute families, jobless disabled and children in plight have food and daily necessities delivered by the district's civil affairs authorities.

The city's help has also been delivered to migrant workers who have not found a job in Shanghai so far and are homeless due to lockdown.

As of the end of March, the city's shelters had helped 1,872 people since the COVID-19 resurgence.

Meanwhile, more than 4,700 people entitled to basic living allowances or who are extremely impoverished have been assisted with 640 million yuan (US$100.5 million) in funding delivered during the period.

Subsidies have also been delivered to help the needy to offset the impact of rising vegetable prices during the pandemic.

The Shanghai branch of Red Cross Society said it is also providing emergency support to patients with tumors, mental disorders and dementia to ensure their daily living needs.

People can make donations by dialing (021) 5535-9999, Red Cross Society said.

Special Reports