Pi­lot project gives young pro­fes­sion­als free apart­ments in old age homes in ex­change for spend­ing time with res­i­dents

Global Times US Edition - - INDE -

Young pro­fes­sion­als in Hangzhou can spend 20 hours a month with the el­derly in ex­change for a free place to stay

The project al­lows el­derly peo­ple stuck in the nurs­ing home to spend more time with young peo­ple through cour­ses and ac­tiv­i­ties

Many pub­lic nurs­ing homes across China are plagued with long wait­ing lists, and could not adopt this model to com­mit a min­i­mum of 20 hours of their time to their el­derly neigh­bors ev­ery month.

Wang Kai, di­rec­tor of so­cial work at Sun­shine Home, who heads the project, said it al­lows young peo­ple to ex­change their spare hours for rent at the nurs­ing home. The aim is to pro­vide more ser­vices to the old peo­ple at the nurs­ing home.

Vol­un­teers can choose to de­vote their time to a range of ser­vices in­clud­ing sim­ple com­pan­ion­ship, teach­ing cour­ses for the el­derly such as how to use smart phones, and as­sis­tance dur­ing spe­cial events such as fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions.

“Al­low­ing these young peo­ple to live in some of our va­cant rooms can not only bring more vi­tal­ity to the nurs­ing home, but also build up a sup­port net­work here,” Wang told the Global Times.

In­spired by Europe

Wang said the project, ini­tially pro­posed by Bin­jiang dis­trict’s Com­mu­nist Youth League Com­mit­tee and Civil Af­fairs Bureau, took its in­spi­ra­tion from sim­i­lar projects in some Euro­pean coun­tries.

Coun­tries like the Nether­lands and Den­mark have all rolled out sim­i­lar projects in re­cent years.

Bin­jiang dis­trict, how­ever, adapted it for its own pur­poses to boost so­cial in­ter­ac­tion among over 600 el­derly peo­ple in the nurs­ing home, who of­ten have only other old peo­ple to talk to.

In ad­di­tion, the project can help al­le­vi­ate ren­tal pres­sure on young peo­ple in Hangzhou. A sur­vey by the Eco­nomic Ob­server this Au­gust shows that the av­er­age rent of Hangzhou ranks fourth in China, right af­ter Bei­jing, Shen­zhen and Shang­hai, at 55.33 yuan ($8) per square-me­ter each month. This means a 30-square-me­ter space in Hangzhou would cost 1,500 yuan on av­er­age.

Last De­cem­ber, the project launched its first trial. Dur­ing the trial, com­pa­nies in Bin­jiang dis­trict were asked to rec­om­mend can­di­dates for the project. This year, ap­pli­ca­tion is open for all youth work­ing in Bin­jiang dis­trict, as long as they have no prop­erty in Hangzhou, hold a bach­e­lor’s de­gree or above, and are within seven years of grad­u­a­tion.

“These re­quire­ments will en­sure that they can bal­ance work and ser­vice at the nurs­ing home,” Wang ex­plained.

Two peo­ple share a 30-square-me­ter stu­dio apart­ment, which fea­tures a bath­room, two sin­gle beds, desks and a large bal­cony. “The room faces the south and has all the fa­cil­i­ties we need. It’s much bet­ter than my pre­vi­ous stu­dio room,” Yang said.

Rent is waived. The young res­i­dents only have to pay 300 yuan for util­i­ties.

All the par­tic­i­pants in the nurs­ing home project said they’re happy to de­vote some of their hours to the el­derly.

Yang, who grad­u­ated with a de­gree in

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