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Adviser calls for more professional rest homes

Adviser calls for more professional rest homes

Updated: 2012-03-14 08:10

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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China should set up professional rest homes with rehabilitation functions for an ever-increasing number of elderly people, particularly those depending on others partially or fully for daily life, so that they can live independently again, urged political adviser Xu Shuqiang.

According to Xu, director of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, China has around 180 million people aged 60 and older and 19 percent of them need assistance to some degree to handle their daily lives.

Adviser calls for more professional rest homes

"However, the country now has few old-age care institutions that can provide professional rehabilitative care," said Xu, also executive deputy director of the Chinese Association of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Currently, the elderly who are unable to live independently due to illness or disability mainly live at home or in rest homes with no rehabilitation capacities or facilities, putting huge pressures on their families and on society in general, he said.

"Some of them actually have a chance to recover with timely treatment, but miss the best time."

Worse, due to the country's family planning policy, the tradition that the old are looked after by their children could hardly be maintained, he noted.

"With four parents and one child, it's almost mission impossible for a couple to take good care of the elderly, especially disabled ones," he said.

Meanwhile, medical institutions are already running at full capacity so they could hardly handle elderly disabled people for long-term rehabilitation, he noted.

To ease the strain, Xu called on the government to set up rehabilitative rest homes that integrate professional rehabilitation and basic medical care into conventional services including accommodation.

These institutions mainly serve the elderly who cannot live independently and need long-term care featuring rehabilitative treatment, he explained.

"The provisions for professional rehabilitation would largely improve their quality of life and help recover somewhat their functions," he said.

"The elderly are prone to getting sick, and these institutions could help relieve the burden for hospitals as well as for the elderly suffering from minor diseases who don't bother to go to the hospitals," he said.

To optimize current resources, he suggested small-scale community hospitals turn to rest homes to receive more elderly people.

Also, to staff such institutions, "we need to train more professional caregivers who have certain medical backgrounds", he said.

Statistics from the China National Working Commission on Ageing showed the nation has 1 million caregivers, far short of the estimated 10 million needed.

Notably, 90 percent of them have never received professional training.

Also, research and development of rehabilitation facilities for the elderly have to be strengthened, Xu urged.

The mental well-being of the elderly has to be cared for as well, said Dong Xieliang, a CPPCC member.

He suggested the government set up more learning centers for the elderly and start TV channels specifically for seniors to enrich their lives.

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