China / Society

Zhejiang to improve care for its elderly

By Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-27 07:51

A package of measures designed to improve care for the elderly has been introduced in Zhejiang province.

The proposals are contained in the Zhejiang Province Social Old-Age Care Service Improvement Regulation. The plans were discussed at the annual session of the 12th Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress and approved on Sunday.

The meeting of representatives from across the province was held from Wednesday to Sunday.

The regulation will give the province legal powers to categorize different types of care services, and requires communities to establish sufficient facilities for the elderly. Colleges and technical schools will also be asked to set up courses to train specialist care workers.

The regulation will also establish a framework for the provision of subsidies for care centers.

Wang Yongchang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress, said the regulation is intended to solve problems in the industry that the current system fails to address.

"We face problems with poor care services and a lack of legal support for privately owned care centers. The regulation will deal with these questions," he said.

The regulation will encourage the use of private capital to develop the industry.

Zhejiang faces severe challenges because of its aging population. At the end of last year, there were 8.98 million people over 60 in the province, accounting for 18.6 percent of the population. It is estimated that by 2020, the number will reach 11.8 million, or 24 percent of the total.

A shortage of social care services for the elderly has become a major concern.

Dong Yaqin, director of the Ningbo Jiangdong Jiahe Old-Care Center, said she hopes the imbalance between the levels of support given to public and private senior-care centers will be solved by the regulation.

"Without policy and financial support, private centers are struggling to survive, while people are fighting for beds in public centers," she said. "The province should make full use of capital from private investors who are willing to invest in the industry."

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