Stan­dards ris­ing for el­derly health­care

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU WEI in Bei­jing xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Use of In­ter­net for com­merce en­cour­aged, along with other qual­ity ser­vice ini­tia­tives

China will ex­plore the use of the In­ter­net, cloud com­put­ing and big data to trans­form care for the aged and fur­ther boost the use of e-com­merce among se­niors, ac­cord­ing to Zou Ming, vice-min­is­ter of civil af­fairs.

Zou said the coun­try will look to em­ploy the “In­ter­net Plus” ini­tia­tive to trans­form home-based care for the el­derly.

“We will also push for­ward more wide­spread use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in ar­eas of aged care and com­mu­nity ser­vices, and im­prove the use of e-com­merce among se­niors,” he said in his key­note speech at a fo­rum on the devel­op­ment of the se­nior ser­vices in­dus­try on Wed­nes­day.

The In­ter­net Plus ini­tia­tive is a plan pro­posed by Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang this year to up­grade tra­di­tional in­dus­tries to take ad­van­tage of the In­ter­net.

China is fac­ing prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with an aging pop­u­la­tion. More than 15.5 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, or 212 mil­lion peo­ple, were age 60 or above by the end of 2014.

The num­ber could reach 300 mil­lion, or 18 per­cent, by 2025 and 400 mil­lion, or 28 per­cent, by 2034, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the China’s Na­tional Work­ing Com­mis­sion on Aging.

“The coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion also fea­tures a large num­ber of el­derly peo­ple who are dis­abled and who are faced with empty nests and poverty,” Zou said.

The coun­try will ac­cel­er­ate the draft­ing of stan­dards for care of the el­derly — in­clud­ing build­ing stan­dards for nurs­ing homes — to im­prove qual­ity, he said.

Zhang Meiy­ing, vice-chair of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, said at the fo­rum that a tal­ent short­age re­mains the big­gest chal­lenge in the coun­try’s el­der-care sec­tor, largely due to low so­cial sta­tus and lack of pro­fes­sional train­ing.

“The de­mand and sup­ply of ser­vices also vary greatly be­tween dif­fer­ent ar­eas. Some nurs­ing homes are faced with an in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of beds, while some have a short­age of at­ten­dants,” she said.

One of the ma­jor chal­lenges in in­cor­po­rat­ing the In­ter­net with el­derly care ser­vices is to de­velop the habit of us­ing the In­ter­net, es­pe­cially the mo­bile In­ter­net, among se­niors, said Wei Guang­pei, a so­cial worker un­der the Home Care Serv­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince.

“It takes a long time for se­niors to ac­cept new tech­nolo­gies. That is why we should make the de­sign as sim­ple as pos­si­ble when designing prod­ucts for them,” he said.

Wei said com­mu­nity ser­vices, in­clud­ing health­care, re­main in­dis­pens­able as the coun­try pushes for­ward home­based care.

“The tech­nolo­gies only en­able eas­ier con­nec­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The qual­ity of ser­vices is still the key for the el­derly,” he said.

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