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Legislators call for improved medical, nursing care for elderly

    Local legislators are calling for improved elderly care in the community by combining medical and nursing services.

    Zhou Yu, a deputy of the Pudong New Area delegation of the Shanghai People’s Congress and a member of the Jiu San Society, one of China’s non-Communist parties, said her study on the city’s long-term nursing system showed that it could not meet the huge demand of the local elderly.

    In her proposal, supported by 14 deputies, she said those receiving long-term nursing needed the service at least three times a week throughout the year. Under government plans to provide 3 million home care services this year, that could only cover 20,000 old people.

    The proposal said that by the end of 2016, there were around 800,000 registered elderly people in Shanghai with some 110,000 of them losing all or half of their physical functions.

    “Currently, what most of the workers do is take care of the old people’s daily needs but many of the elderly, especially those who have lost the ability to think and act, also need home medical services,” Zhou told Shanghai Daily.

    In January last year, a trial run of the long-term nursing insurance program for the elderly was launched in Xuhui, Putuo and Jinshan districts. The trial was expanded to the whole city at the beginning of this year, allowing old people fitting the standards to enjoy three kinds of nursing services provided at home, at eldercare institutions and at hospitals.

    But Zhou’s research in Jinshan District found there were still a number of elderly not covered by the insurance program. Only 2.8 percent of elderly people in the district had benefited from this program by the end of 2016, including 1,350 receiving eldercare institution services and 3,046 receiving home care services.

    Lack of professional care

    Her team also noted an insufficient number of professional eldercare workers. For example, a nursing station in Putuo District had offered nursing services to about 1,000 old people since the three-district trial run began. However, it only has 100 workers, which means one worker serving 10 elderly people, a heavy workload.

    Zhou thought an executive body on the elderly’s long-term nursing should be established with resources from related departments.

    “The elderly’s long-term nursing affairs relate to several departments like bureaus of civil affairs, health and human resource. So an executive body should be set up to unite their resources,” said Zhou. “The community health care should be enhanced.”

    She also suggested that technical schools could set up majors on elderly care for skilled professionals, along with the training given by training schools.

    Community long-term nursing information platforms should be built, providing services such as personal health profiles and nursing services appointments.

    Another lawmaker Wu Jian agreed with the idea of connecting medical care with eldercare services. His proposal, backed by another 14 deputies, concerns voluntary eldercare services and calls for a well-organized guidance for individuals and organizations offering to volunteer, such as a database of volunteers’ information and including the service in the social credit system. The proposal suggests that inspection on law enforcement of the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly should cover the elderly’s long-term nursing insurance, support given to old people in poverty, home nursing services and protection of the elderly’s rights.

    Deputy Zhou Yuanhang said eldercare workers should be trained not only in some basic skills but also in health care and medical treatment.