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China Daily Website

'Grid system' helps ensure well-being of elderly residents

Updated: 2012-11-12 04:24
By Jin Haixing (

Li Yuanyuan, a social worker in Beijing, learned that the 92-year-old Li Yajun was in need of some medicine while paying her a visit on Wednesday.

She responded by using a wireless terminal to send a message to a "grid service center", where she could enlist the help of social workers and ultimately ensure the elderly resident got the pills she was requesting. Beijing's urban management system divides communities into grids.

Those subdivisions are then managed, and social services are provided to them, with the use of databases that bring together information about residents, public institutions' resources and businesses.

The Qingshuiyuan community, in the city's Dongcheng district, is divided into two grids, each of which has a director and several workers assigned to it.

Also in the community are 980 people who, like Li Yajun, are older than 60 and have benefited from the social services offered through Beijing's urban grid management system.

It is the main daily task of Li Yuanyuan and others like her to look after the well-being of the elderly and disabled residents in the community.

The 26-year-old holds a master's degree in social work from Renmin University of China and is an assistant with the No 2 grid in the community.

She and her colleagues regularly visit residents, celebrate their birthdays and help them meet daily needs.

Perhaps most important, the visits help bring the elderly mental comfort, she said.

Li Yuanyuan, who joined the community's grid service station in July, said on Sunday that working in the community is different from what she had expected when she had been in college. The social work she has done in the past few months has taught her much, she said.

The system enables the elderly to receive services when needed from a grid service station. When social workers or volunteers bring requests to the stations, those are sent to the service online through a wireless terminal, according to Song Shuxian, Party chief of the Qingshuiyuan community.

The terminal can be used to make phone calls, take photos and report incidents and other information to the community's service center, all actions that can be taken in a very short time.

Most of the volunteers, who regularly visit elderly people who live alone, are members of the Communist Party of China, Song told reporters from China and abroad on Sunday.

The reporters were invited to the community by the media center of the 18th National Congress of the CPC.

This service for the elderly is only one of the 68 services the community provides. Residents there can go to the Internet or micro blogs about the Dongzhimen sub district — which has 34 grids, including the two in the Qingshuiyuan community — to obtain information about the social services available to them.

In 2010, Dongcheng district introduced a trial program for the urban grid system, concentrating on social services. Its exploration of urban grid management started in 2004.

Many other cities in China have learned from its successful experiences, Zhang Jinlin, a Beijing government publicity official, said on Sunday.

The Qingshuiyuan community applied the system in 2011, Song said.

Song said the arrival of university graduates to the community office has helped make the social work more innovative. Through a short period of training, these newcomers can quickly learn to use the wireless terminal and online platform.