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China’s elderly care services face rising demand

Author  :  WU YI’AN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-06-29

An aging population will remain one of the growing tendencies in China’s social development for a long time to come. A modern elderly care service system must be set up as soon as possible to respond to this trend. Currently, China is at a decisive stage in the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Thus the country should grasp the historical opportunity to improve the system of elderly care services by better providing for senior citizens.

Challenged by new phenomena such as sub-replacement fertility and empty nests, the traditional mode of familybased elderly care has also begun to change. In recent years, China has been building its elderly care system by establishing and improving relevant policies.

Li Yingsheng, a professor from the School of Sociology and Population studies at Renmin University of China, said that the guiding documents, such as Law of the People’s Republic of China on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, have gradually been issued so as to complete the policy and legal system for elderly care services. Meanwhile, the government has also included this matter in the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans. Various measures have been taken to drive the development of the elderly care industry, such as setting up a health care and insurance system that suits an aging society.

Xiang Yunhua, a research fellow of the Social Security Research Center of Wuhan University, recognized China’s achievements in the building of the elderly care system. He observed that with the joint efforts of related sectors and organizations, the quality of elderly care services in China has been improving. In particular, four modes of elderly care have taken shape: old people’s homes close to hospitals; old people’s homes featuring medical services; medical institutions with extra elderly care services; and integrated institutions that balance both medical care and other elderly care.

He Wenjiong, a professor from the School of Public Affairs of Zhejiang University, suggested that relevant departments should learn from other countries and adapt their knowledge to China’s conditions while driving the normalization and standardization of elderly care services.

Currently, it is not uncommon for Chinese people to get old before getting rich, which requires China’s elderly care system to do more. As the elderly dependency ratio continues to rise, China’s pension insurance fund faces increasing pressure. Xiang believed that a better system of elderly care services helps to ease the burden of society and the imbalance between supply and demand, thus further stabilizing the society and driving economic development.

Professor He pointed out that many problems exist in China’s current system of elderly care services, including unreasonable resource allocation and mismatched supply and demand. We need to cultivate the market for home-based care services, expand the coverage of and fully implement the subsidy system for elderly care, and study the pricing mechanism in the industry.

To solve the distinct problem for empty-nest or disabled elders, Xiang suggested that the government needs to improve the facilities for elders in their communities and set up an information system for volunteers in local communities and social organizations. We need to adopt new technologies such as the internet of things, big data and AI so as to establish a smart system for elderly care services.

Li suggested that we need to build an elderly care system that combines both the city and the countryside and guarantees fairness and justice in both. We need to let the families and the local communities play a fundamental role while providing social pension as a support. Meanwhile, we need to let the care system and industries go forward hand in hand, and we must let industrial development drive the development of the elderly care system.

Editor: Yu Hui

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