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Bedside manner

Updated: 2012-12-11 10:46
By Zheng Jinran and Pei Pei ( China Daily)

Bedside manner

Zhou Ruzhen washes the feet of an elderly man with cerebral thrombosis in the nursing home. Wang Min / Xinhua

A nursing home caregiver has won nationwide praise for her concern for elderly disabled singles. Zheng Jinran and Pei Pei report in Cangzhou, Hebei.

Over the past 24 years, about 200 elderly singles with disabilities from Hebei province's Qing-xian county have come to a rural nursing home that is poorly equipped but has an exceptional caretaker - Zhou Ruzhen.

More than 150 residents have passed away under the care of Zhou, whose special touch has earned praise nationwide.

The 69-year-old's work with disabled elderly singles began with a chance encounter in 1998.

Zhou was the director of women's affairs in Qingxian's Fengtaibu village and was asked to help care for a dozen elderly singles for a few days because the nursing home was short-staffed.

These lonely seniors were moved by her patience and meticulousness, and asked her to stay. She agreed.

"They treated me like their daughter," she says.

"As their daughter, I can't abandon them. I felt they really needed me."

There were only three people caring for 18 disabled single seniors in the shabby nursing home. All eight rooms leaked.

Zhou had to do almost everything for the residents, from cooking to feeding those who were paralyzed.

She saved money by washing their clothes by hand, even in winter, despite her painful rheumatic arthritis.

Zhou is occasionally yelled at or beaten by patients with mental illnesses. But she responds by smiling and soothing.

She recalls being slapped by a newcomer who was unaccustomed to being accompanied to the bathroom several years ago.

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