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Home-based care way forward for elderly: Shanghai mayor

2014-01-20 16:32 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

Shanghai is to promote home-based care for seniors to tackle the problem of the city's aging population and the shortage of resources for the elderly, Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong told the annual session of the Shanghai People's Congress on Sunday.

The city government can build a platform to bring together care resources at residential homes for seniors and communities, as well as meet the demands of local seniors who prefer to live at home, Yang said.

Many legislators had asked for initiatives to improve care services for seniors.

"The problem is really urgent for the city government as the percentage of the elderly population is increasing by about 2 percent every year," Yang said.

At the end of 2012, Shanghai had 3.67 million residents aged over 60, up 5.6 percent from a year earlier and a quarter of the total population.

Care services can't meet demand, made more acute as 70 percent of the city's elderly have chronic diseases and need day care or in-home services, an earlier survey found.

There are 620 nursing homes in Shanghai with 100,000 beds — enough for just 3 percent of the city's elderly population.

Another problem is that many residents cannot afford fees for in-home care or nursing home services as they receive low government subsidies, said Xu Li, a local lawmaker.

The city government offers 200 yuan (US$33) a month in subsidies for retired people to use care services.

But care workers charge about 25 yuan per hour, Xu said.

And for the nursing homes, the monthly charge is 5,000 yuan, compared with an average monthly pension of 3,000 yuan, she added.

The city government will purchase caring services for the elderly people in future to meet the basic demands of those who need care at home, Yang told legislators.

"The government can provide the basic services while the nursing homes can offer higher level services for those who can afford the higher charges," added Yang.

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