Business / Economy

Pioneering success in rural nursing homes

By Zheng Jinran in Handan, Hebei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-02 07:12

Pioneering success in rural nursing homes

Seniors cook at an elderly care center in Feixiang county in Handan, Hebei province. Hao Qunying / For China Daily

On a sunny afternoon, Guo Jiujun, 85, weeded with a hoe in the vegetable garden while several meters away in a two-story building people with gray hair played cards or watched TV, talking and laughing.

The leisure activities and various entertainment rooms might feel like a recreation center in a modern city. But the nearby cornfield shows it is certainly set in a rural area.

It is the first of a new type of nursing home in Qiantun village in Hebei province. Built in 2008, its way of taking care of the elderly was praised in 2011 by Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo, who said the approach should be used in more rural areas in China.

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In 2012, Feixiang county had 44,000 residents aged 60 and older, 31 percent of them living alone because they had no children at home or spouse.

Many are still in good shape like Guo, but they still face risks if they live alone, said Cai Qingyang, chief of Qiantun village.

But they cannot afford the expenses or are unwilling to live in nursing homes, so they tried a new model - renting some rooms for them to live together.

"It turned out that they preferred to live here, though it was not comfortable compared to their own homes," Cai said.

But it does provide a better environment with air conditioning and even fitness equipment. They can still grow vegetables or flowers in the garden.

The biggest benefit, however, is that they have company.

"I like to chat and feel warm living with others," Guo said, adding that they usually share food and stories from the past.

Cai Wu'e, 73, from the same village, also enjoys living together with her friends. She began to make shoes in her abundant leisure time, which she gave to others in need.

"We need to take care of each other," she said.

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