Families able to see elderly loved ones once more

Hu Min
Normal life is gradually returning to senior care facilities in Shanghai, along with a change in mindset over care.
Hu Min
Families able to see elderly loved ones once more
Ti Gong

Elderly residents at "Ardor Gardens" senior living community enjoy building blocks.

Families able to see elderly loved ones once more
Ti Gong

A worker disinfects the senior living community.

Normal life is gradually returning to senior care facilities in Shanghai, and a mindset change about senior care is emerging as a result of the COVID-19 resurgence, operators said.

A vigorous scene was on display at the "Ardor Gardens" senior living community located on the bank of the Dianshan Lake in Qingpu District as residents played table tennis and strolled to singing and fitness exercises.

Located in the Yangtze River Delta Ecology and Greenery Integration Demonstration Zone and opened last September, the complex accommodates more than 100 seniors.

The community has maintained a zero-infection record to date and has developed a stronger bond with its residents because of the COVID-19 resurgence.

Social life has partially returned to normal. The complex hosted an "island resort style" event recently with strict pandemic prevention measures, to create a relaxing, interactive and social event to enrich the lives of its residents.

It was also to express gratitude for the tireless efforts of nursing workers and to bring refreshment in the midst of summer.

Some residents arrived in a relaxed holiday feel, dressed in colourful summer outfits. After redeeming their event-special sun hats and bracelets, they posed for stylish looks.

They played fun games such as block stacking, dice tossing and sandbag throwing.

"Normal life and joy are back, and the relaxation brings the fun again just like being a child," said a resident surnamed Zhang, 63.

Winners proudly held their trophies and showed off to each other with much laughter.

Families able to see elderly loved ones once more
Ti Gong

Residents at "Ardor Gardens" senior living community play dice throwing.

A special exhibition of photos and oil paintings attracted attention.

The works on display were all created by residents, capturing not only moments of springtime scenery, but also many glorious worlds, touching and memorable – a timeless record of everyday life.

"I am deeply touched when seeing these works, which remind me of the lockdown period and all the care and support from nursing staff and peers at the community," said another resident surnamed Zhu.

"There has been a change on the view toward senior care due to the COVID-19 resurgence," said Ding Hui, a senior operator of the community.

"The lockdown had brought many challenges to the elderly group because it was difficult for many to grab food materials via apps and pick delivered goods."

The community has received an increasing number of inquiries after the resurgence from elderly citizens, and some who were hesitating about accommodation at senior care facilities before the resurgence finally made up their mind to move there.

"In the past, many deemed distance is an important factor because there are more medical facilities in downtown areas," Ding said.

"But now, they view an environment which is close to nature the same significant for senior care facilities, because it will ensure a pleasant mood, particularly during lockdown.

"Also, normal meal supply and nursing functions of senior care facilities are extra points."

Families able to see elderly loved ones once more
Ti Gong

A worker disinfects tables at the senior living complex.

From July, senior homes in Shanghai have lifted their ban on visits by family, which had been suspended for more than three months.

Visitors must have a green health code, and their travel history code should indicate that they have not visited or stayed in medium- or high-risk regions within the previous seven days, according to Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

They should also have a negative nucleic acid test result within the past 24 hours. A reservation is mandatory.

They need to make real-name registration as well.

As early as 6:30am recently, Zhang Yi, a local resident, arrived at the Xinyi Senior Home in Yangpu District, where his mother Ye Genglan was waiting for him.

After he completed a number of procedures including scanning the "venue code," showing a negative nucleic acid test result from within the past 24 hours, checking temperature, making registration and disinfecting belongings, he was allowed in.

At the senior home, off-line family reunions are staged everyday after the visit ban was lifted.

Tightly holding Ye's hand, Zhang could not control his emotions. Before the COVID-19 resurgence, he visited Ye every morning. It all stopped in a sudden in March.

"I understand the pandemic prevention policy and am willing for cooperation giving consideration to seniors' health," Zhang said.

"But I really missed my mom during the lockdown period. After the relaxation of policy, I made reservation for a visit immediately."

The senior home receives about 20 visitors daily.

Families able to see elderly loved ones once more
Ti Gong

Elderly residents play games.

The number of visitors, visit frequency, and routes and visiting areas are set strictly based on capacity.

"We put notice and reservation information at the WeChat group of family members of elderly residents," said Liu Junjun, director of the senior home.

"We give priority to elderly citizens who have been inoculated of COVID-19 vaccines or those with emergency situation."

When it is sunny, the meeting will be arranged at an outdoor garden for prevention concerns.

For bed-ridden residents, their family members will be required to wear protective clothing for entry into living areas.

Shanghai is among the fastest aging cities in China. Residents over 60 comprised more than 36 percent of the permanent population as of the end of last year, hitting 5.34 million.

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