Pi­o­neer­ing suc­cess in ru­ral nurs­ing homes

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHENG JINRAN in Han­dan, He­bei

On a sunny af­ter­noon, Guo Ji­u­jun, 85, weeded with a hoe in the veg­etable gar­den while sev­eral me­ters away in a two-story build­ing people with gray hair played cards or watched TV, talk­ing and laugh­ing.

The leisure ac­tiv­i­ties and var­i­ous en­ter­tain­ment rooms might feel like a re­cre­ation cen­ter in a mod­ern city. But the nearby corn­field shows it is cer­tainly set in a ru­ral area.

It is the first of a new type of nurs­ing home in Qiantun vil­lage in He­bei prov­ince. Built in 2008, its way of tak­ing care of the el­derly was praised in 2011 by Min­is­ter of Civil Af­fairs Li Liguo, who said the ap­proach should be used in more ru­ral ar­eas in China.

In 2012, Feix­i­ang county had 44,000 res­i­dents aged 60 and older, 31 per­cent of them liv­ing alone be­cause they had no chil­dren at home or spouse.

Many are still in good shape like Guo, but they still face risks if they live alone, said Cai Qingyang, chief of Qiantun vil­lage.

But they can­not af­ford the ex­penses or are un­will­ing to live in nurs­ing homes, so they tried a new model — rent­ing some rooms for them to live to­gether.

“It turned out that they pre­ferred to live here, though it was not com­fort­able com­pared to their own homes,” Cai said.

But it does pro­vide a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment with air con­di­tion­ing and even fit­ness equip­ment. They can still grow veg­eta­bles or flow­ers in the gar­den.

The big­gest ben­e­fit, how­ever, is that they have com­pany.

“I like to chat and feel warm liv­ing with oth­ers,” Guo said, adding that they usu­ally share food and sto­ries from the past.

Cai Wu’e, 73, from the same vil­lage, also en­joys liv­ing to­gether with her friends. She be­gan to make shoes in her abun­dant leisure time, which she gave to oth­ers in need.

“We need to take care of each other,” she said.

rough years of de­vel­op­ment, Feix­i­ang county has im­proved on the model, even mak­ing it a na­tional pi­lot in ru­ral nurs­ing home re­form.

Guo just needs to bring his own food and that’s all. He can live in the room free of charge with the bed and other nec­es­sary fur­ni­ture do­nated by oth­ers.

In ad­di­tion, the county govern­ment will sub­si­dize Guo and ev­ery sin­gle res­i­dent in this type of nurs­ing home with 350 yuan ($56) a year.

Though we spend more for this nurs­ing home, we also get sub­si­dies from the county, which eases our fi­nan­cial bur­den.” CAI QINGYANG CHIEF OF QIANTUN VIL­LAGE

The vil­lage pays for elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and other charges that aver­age about 2,000 yuan an­nu­ally.

“Though we spend more for this nurs­ing home, we also get sub­si­dies from the county, which eases our fi­nan­cial bur­den,” said Cai, the vil­lage chief, adding that the ru­ral vil­lages usu­ally have limited rev­enues, which may be a big prob­lem for oth­ers to fol­low their ex­am­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions re­leased by the county govern­ment, ev­ery nurs­ing home will get a max­i­mum sub­sidy of 100,000 yuan.

With en­cour­age­ment from the county as well as provin­cial and cen­tral gov­ern­ments, the num­ber of the new ru­ral nurs­ing homes ex­panded quickly.

By the end of July 2012, all vil­lages in Feix­i­ang county had their own nurs­ing homes 249 in to­tal pro­vid­ing for all the el­derly in need.

He­bei has also re­leased a plan to pro­mote the ini­tia­tive in other ru­ral ar­eas.

Wang Baozhen, deputy di­rec­tor of the civil af­fairs depart­ment in He­bei, said more than half of coun­ties and vil­lages in the ru­ral ar­eas of the prov­ince now have such nurs­ing homes al­low­ing se­niors to live to­gether with the nec­es­sary sup­port from gov­ern­ments.

“I have filed pro­pos­als with the range of gov­ern­ments to give more fi­nan­cial sup­port,” he said, adding that as a se­nior cit­i­zen he un­der­stands the feel­ing of liv­ing alone.

Though in this model the el­derly help each other, re­duc­ing the ex­pense of hir­ing doc­tors and nurses, the homes also at­tract doc­tors who serve as vol­un­teers.

Cai, the vil­lage chief, said a med­i­cal team lives in­side with the el­derly.

“Many teams from other prov­inces have vis­ited our nurs­ing homes, learn­ing from us,” he said. “I hope there will be more for the ru­ral el­derly.”

Af­ter an hour of weed­ing, Guo wa­tered his veg­eta­bles, a lit­tle tired but smil­ing. Re­mem­ber­ing his room­mate likes fresh veg­eta­bles, he car­ried some as he headed to their room.


Se­niors cook at an el­derly care cen­ter in Feix­i­ang county in Han­dan, He­bei prov­ince.

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