Points-based pro­gram re­wards ac­tive se­niors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SHI BAOYIN in Xinx­i­ang, He­nan and ZHANG YI in Bei­jing

An in­no­va­tive ser­vice de­signed to help se­nior cit­i­zens ac­cess recre­ational pro­grams and pub­lic ser­vices has been launched in Xinx­i­ang, He­nan prov­ince.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s com­mit­tee on ag­ing, Xinx­i­ang has about 760,000 peo­ple aged 60 and older, ac­count­ing for 15.8 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

The new ser­vice, part of the in­te­grated in­for­ma­tion web­site 12349.gov.cn, al­lows se­nior cit­i­zens to ac­cu­mu­late points by par­tic­i­pat­ing in var­i­ous so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, which they can re­deem for daily ne­ces­si­ties.

“I have 2,000 points in my ac­count, which I gained through tak­ing mu­sic and dance classes in a col­lege for the el­derly,” said Wen Xian­gling, a 60-year-old re­tiree from Xinx­i­ang.

“I gain five points from each class, which is equal to 1 yuan (15 cents). The points can then be spent on hair­cuts and laun­dry ser­vices.”

Hu Jiebing, head of Xinx­i­ang’s com­mit­tee on ag­ing, said the points-based sys­tem ef­fec­tively en­cour­ages se­niors to take part in so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

“For ex­am­ple, they can get points from 57 ser­vice cen­ters for par­tic­i­pat­ing in recre­ational classes such as cal­lig­ra­phy and pho­tog­ra­phy. They can then use these points in su­per­mar­kets and at care cen­ters,” said the 58-year-old.

So far, Xinx­i­ang’s se­niors have ac­crued more than 110 mil­lion points, with over 12,000 be­ing spent ev­ery day on a va­ri­ety of goods and ser­vices.

A hot­line as­so­ci­ated with the ini­tia­tive re­ceives more than 800 calls a day.

Hu Xi­uy­ing, 76, said she spends her points on phys­i­cal ther­apy to treat her arthri­tis. She has at­tended ther­apy ses­sions five days a week for the past two months, with each ses­sion cost­ing 20 points.

She ac­cu­mu­lated her points through her sav­ings ac­count with Bank of China and her spend­ing on tele- com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices, she said.

Both Bank of China and China Citic Bank of­fer fi­nan­cial ser­vices that re­ward points as part of the pro­gram, with 30 points ac­crued for ev­ery 1,000 yuan saved over a pe­riod of a year.

China Uni­com, mean­while, of­fers se­niors a point for ev­ery 10 yuan spent on its ser­vices. Points are also avail­able for any se­niors who take part in a spe­cial quiz pro­gram that is broad­cast on lo­cal tele­vi­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to Xinx­i­ang’s com­mit­tee on ag­ing, an in­crease in the num­ber of se­niors has pre­sented a chal­lenge for the govern­ment, with the up­ward trend un­likely to be re­versed any­time soon.

The points-based ser­vice aims to bet­ter use govern­ment funds by fa­cil­i­tat­ing ac­cess to so­cial ser­vices for se­niors who par­tic­i­pate in char­i­ta­ble, recre­ational and ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, it said.

Contact the writ­ers at zhang_yi@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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