Business / Industries

China to get more premium nursing homes

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-26 14:03

BEIJING -- As China gives private companies more free rein to provide care for its senior citizens, enterprises like Cherish Yearn are optimistic of their prospects.

With the elderly population of 200 million able to afford better lifestyles, companies are springing up to provide far more premium services than can be found in most State-operated nursing homes.

Cherish Yearn, founded in 2005 in Shanghai, has created a membership club for elderly people that allows them to travel between and stay in properties owned by the company. The accommodation is found in several of China's most well-known tourist destinations.

A membership fee of $200,000 plus service charges allows members to enjoy dining, recreation and healthcare.

Ms Ru, 78, is a member. "They offer thoughtful services, taking notes on things like our hobbies, our health, and what kind of food we like," she told Xinhua. "They also organize cooking contests, firework displays, and golf outings to help us make friends."

Ru's son-in-law, Zhu Li, said he and his wife bought a membership for Ru so that they can focus more on their careers while she travels in comfort.

"The club represents a new kind of service for China," Zhu said. "I think similar services will become more popular in future as the economy keeps growing. Memberships can also be inherited or transferred to others, so it's kind of like an investment."

In 2008, Cherish Yearn also opened a posh senior care home in Shanghai that it markets as "China's first membership community for elderly people." More than 1,300 senior citizens live in the community's 12 apartment buildings, enjoying support facilities like a gym, hospital, cafeteria and shopping center.

These kinds of offerings are rare in China. Most elderly Chinese prefer to live with their children. But in big cities, more elderly are choosing to live elsewhere. Some say their children are too busy, others that they don't get along well enough with their children.

Xi Zhiyong, chairman of Cherish Yearn, said it is time for Chinese people to change their traditional ideas about life for seniors. "Old people are not content with simply being able to live as they grow richer. They want to live better lifestyles."

China had more than 200 million people aged 60 or above at the end of 2014, representing 15.5 percent of the country's population. The figure is expected to double by 2030.

Since earlier this year, the government has been liberalizing the elder care market to allow more private players.

"The government should focus on providing welfare for the elderly to help them pay for professional services," Xi said. "We businesses know where the future of the industry is so we can focus on improving services."

Foreign enterprises offering services to the elderly or training for service providers have also entered China, mainly focusing on the premium end of the market.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks