Guideline will allow equal treatment to increase supply, quality of services
A new guideline on promoting nursing homes for the elderly in China offers overseas investors national treatment when they join the sector.
Overseas capital will get treatment equal to that of domestic investors, according to a guideline disclosed by the State Council General Office on Tuesday. An exhibition will be included for nursing home care at the China International Import Expo to attract more foreign investment, the document said.
"Nursing homes for the elderly, founded by overseas investors on the Chinese mainland, will get treatment equal to domestic companies as long as they admit disadvantaged seniors whose care would be covered by the government," Gao Xiaobing, vice-minister of civil affairs, said at a policy briefing on Tuesday hosted by the State Council Information Office. The requirement is the same for domestic companies.
Equal treatment was one of the guideline's 28 clauses that aim to generate a greater supply of nursing services and improve quality as China faces the increasing pressure of an aging population.
Gao said the market access threshold will be further lowered with cancellation of administrative approvals to enter the nursing home market.
More capital, including government funds, will go to the sector to help upgrade rural nursing homes, improve firefighting facilities in privately run nursing institutions and renovate community facilities, she said.
By 2022, at least 55 percent of social welfare lottery funds will be used to support nursing care for the elderly, Gao said. Large eligible companies in the sector will be encouraged to go public, she said. Favorable policies in land and taxes will be offered, the vice-minister added.
Last year, China had 249 million people aged 60 or older, accounting for about 17 percent of the total population. As of the end of 2018, the country had about 30,000 nursing institutions for the elderly with 3.92 million beds, along with another 3.53 million beds in community institutions.
Ou Xiaoli, director of the department of social affairs of the National Development and Reform Commission, recognized the gap between demand and supply, saying the government is focusing on key groups, including the impoverished and those with disabilities.
But the supply of such services cannot meet the increasingly diverse demand, and it's very hard to find high-quality beds at acceptable prices, Ou said. As a result, the central government has been working on a plan to offer affordable nursing care, he said.
The central government provides some financial support to nursing homes and social welfare institutions in urban areas and nursing homes in rural areas, Ou said. With support of the central government, city governments and enterprises will join in to provide care for the elderly to expand the supply of such services, he said.