Caring hands help seniors take the plunge

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang and DENG RUI in Chongqing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-06 07:20
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Assisted bathing attendants install a bathtub at a client's home in Beijing. PHOTO/CHINA DAILY

"It is very challenging to assist disabled or partially disabled seniors, as they do not bathe frequently, which in most cases leaves them with body odor and looking dirty," Liu said.

He thinks that being a bathing attendant requires compassion.

"In addition, some elderly people may have a poor view of life, so we need to pay attention to our own attitude," Liu said.

He added that in Qingdao, Shandong province, a man in his 80s shed tears of gratitude after being helped to take a bath. "He told me he had never had such a comfortable bath as a senior," Liu said.

Long Quanming, 60, founder of Chongqing Sunshine Eldercare Service, where Liu works, said, "Assisted bathing attendants provide timely help for many families."

The company, which was founded in 2016, specializes in bathing services.

After seeing the bathing difficulties experienced by his father, who became partially disabled after breaking his tailbone in 2015, Long developed an interest in caring for seniors.

He and his two siblings took care of their father at home, but bathing him was a particularly troublesome issue for them.

"None of us were professionals, so it was quite difficult to give him a bath," Long said.

In 2017, Long designed an assisted bathing cabin, which has been awarded three national patents. The cabin was assembled from special materials with insulation functions, and equipped with a bathtub, shower, wash basin and other facilities.

Long installed the equipment in his home to bathe his father. One day, a relative saw it and expressed an interest in installing such a cabin at his home.

However, Long found that the relative's home did not have the right conditions for the cabin.

"At the time, I thought why not create a shared bathtub? We could use a mobile bathing vehicle to enter the community to provide bathing services," he said.

In 2018, his vision became reality with the launch of Chongqing's first bathing demonstration center for seniors, which features mobile bathing vans that initially provided free services. The center was jointly launched by the Chongqing Charity Federation, the Chongqing Pension Service Association and Long's company.

The mobile bathing vans provide services in residential communities, nursing institutions and villages.

"At that time, this public welfare project was free, and the elderly formed long lines to be bathed. But when charges were introduced, the lines dried up," Long said, adding that the charges were not a long-term solution.

After considering the situation for six months, he thought that the authorities, philanthropists and the seniors' children should pay for the bathing services.

Finally, a fund was established, with the first donation made by a local company, which covered the bathing expenses of 3,000 people.

"The scenes of seniors lining up to use the bathing vans promptly returned," Long said.

Moreover, local governments from more than 20 districts and counties in Chongqing have purchased services from Long's company for seniors.

The company, which has more than 30 attendants, operates 10 bathing vans in Chongqing, which have also provided services some 60,000 times in a dozen cities nationwide, including Qingdao and Zunyi, Guizhou province.

The services will be extended to other areas of the country, including Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Henan province, and Long said it is estimated that the number of vans in operation will rise to 100 next year.

"I will continue to develop the bathing business for seniors, and become a pioneer in the field of healthy bathing for the elderly," Long said.

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