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More funding pledged for Beijing's elderly care

Updated: 2013-11-07 23:38
By Zheng Xin ( China Daily)

Govt plans to attract social capital to help improve quality of senior welfare

Beijing vowed on Thursday to increase investment in nursing homes in a bid to take care of more elderly people in the city.

The city plans to provide more than 120,000 nursing home beds by 2015 and 160,000 by the end of 2020, to ensure that 40 beds are available for every thousand seniors.

Investment will be increased to expand nursing homes, with some 25,000 yuan ($4,000) for each bed, compared with 8,000 yuan to 16,000 yuan in the past.

"The government needs to be fully aware of the urgency in dealing with the huge and increasing elderly population in the capital," Li Hongbing, spokesman for the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, said at a news conference on Thursday.

"The government is also considering measures to attract more social capital to the senior welfare cause and improve the quality of private elderly welfare institutes."

More than 95,000 beds are available in the capital's nursing homes so far.

According to Li, the capital is facing various problems concerning the welfare of the aging population, including inadequate financial support, a lack of beds in nursing homes and bed vacancies due to poor administration.

"There is a shortage of nearly 300,000 nursing home places for senior citizens across the city," he said.

More than 30,000 of the beds are publicly operated, whereas the rest are run by private enterprises, which are less professional, he said.

To cope with the dilemma, the government plans to provide more financial support to the institutes while attracting more social capital to help improve their quality.

Dong Huihui, daughter of a senior citizen in Beijing, said finding a proper nursing home for her 81-year-old father has always been a problem.

"We found a nursing home in the suburbs awhile ago, but had to leave it after three months because it was expensive and the food and service was unpleasant," she said.

"It's also difficult for an old person like my father to make new friends in a new place, and the staff barely fulfilled their duty of talking to the old people," she said.

Reports of inhumane service at some private nursing homes helped persuade Dong to take her father back home.

Dong suggested that personnel should provide more psychological counseling for the seniors to help them adjust.

Chen Bei, deputy head of the city's human resources and social security bureau, said measures will be taken to strengthen supervision of private nursing homes.

The institutions will be given guidance to improve their services, instead of merely fulfilling the responsibility of registration approval.

In addition, a shortage of personnel has restricted development in the city's elderly care sector, despite many students' majoring in senior care and management, medical treatment, nursing, rehabilitation, nutrition balance and psychological counseling.

"It's necessary to gradually increase the income of nursing home employees to attract more talent," Chen said.

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