Elder-care reforms urged
China plans to give preferential policies to elder-care institutions after investigations revealed many aging people in rural areas are receiving inadequate care, civil affairs officials told a forum on Wednesday.
Wang Hui, an officer with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said at the Eighth National Geriatric Care Forum that China will provide more support for the elder-care industry in terms of improved laws and policies, the Beijing News reported.
The State Council may soon issue a document relating to elder-care institutions that will provide preferential policies on land, tax and subsidies to support the development of the industry, Wang said Wang said the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged will be reviewed later this month
In 2010 senior citizens accounted for 15.6 percent of the total rural population and the proportion is expected to rise to 33 percent by 2030.
Wang said elder-care services lack funding, skilled personnel and relevant policies and support mechanisms. With more adults moving to cities to work, their aging parents are left at home making caring for their needs more difficult, added Wang.
Yan Qingchun, an official with the National Committee on Aging said that the aging population in rural areas will reach a peak of 171 million in 2034, 20 years earlier than the expected national peak.
"In the past the elderly didn't need to work much and had their children around to look after them. Now they have to care for their grandchildren even after a day of working the land," Yan said
Existing elder-care services lag far behind demand and a large number of rural nursing homes fail to meet regulations as two thirds remain unregistered as required by law, said Yan.
"Both society and families have not fully prepared for the aging trend," Zheng Zhenzhen, a professor with the Institute of People and Labor Economic of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Thursday.
According to Yan, 31,000 nursing homes in rural China provided some 2.25 million beds in 2010 but only 78 percent were occupied
"These rural nursing homes are open for those who have been approved by the government. Those who are not qualified won't receive services," Zheng said.
Yan suggested the rural nursing homes currently operated by the government must be transformed by opening their doors to all elderly people in need and by encouraging the private sector to provide services.
2013-03-19 Global Times