Academic journal article Development and Society

Development of Hospice Care Service for the Elderly in China

Academic journal article Development and Society

Development of Hospice Care Service for the Elderly in China

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 2010, the economist published one report on "the Quality of Death" in which China ranked the 37th among 40 countries and regions,1 with the availability of end-of-life care ranking the 40th and the quality of end-of-life care ranking the 35th (Economist Intelligence Unit 2010). And this report also draws attention of both international and domestic scholars on the end-oflife care. Deathbed care, also called hospice care, aims to improve the quality of life of terminal patients by relieving their uncomfortable symptoms, and help the patients to live through the last stage of life with dignity. Tianjin Medical University established the first research center of hospice care in China. Since China's hospice care originates from medical and health field, its driving force also comes from this field. The hospice care now exists mainly as an ethical care or service concept and has not been developed into a complete service development framework, which results in low availability and low quality of end-of-life care in certain degree. As the aging of population constantly grows and the life expectancy continues to expand, the proportion of aging population to death population continues to improve, and traditional household resources of end-of-life care is becoming scarce because the family becomes smaller and empty nest, which will definitely increase the need for the socialized hospice care service; on the other hand, researches also prove that hospice care could not only enable the elderly to die peacefully, but also effectively reserve the medical and health resources (Xu 2000; Dong 2002), so it has become a problem demanding prompt solution to promote the scale development of hospice care in the medical and health field.

Though the constant growth of aging raises challenges to hospice care, it also provides chances for the development of the hospice care service. On one hand, China is now vigorously promoting the construction of socialized pension service system. Relevant service industries including home-based care for the aged, community support for the elderly, and institution for oldage care have met unprecedented opportunities for development,2 so the hospice care for the elderly, which is at a terminal of service industry for the aged people, naturally becomes the key development emphasis. On the other hand, the advent of an aging society draws attention of the nation and the society to the gerontological social work and its organizational development, and more and more perfect gerontological social work system lays a sound foundation for promoting hospice care service for the elderly. From perspectives of theory and practice and against the background of the aging society (Sun and Li 2013), it is crucial to vigorously develop the hospice care service for the elderly in China for improving "the Quality of Death". Therefore, on the basis of clarifying the connotation and important meaning of the hospice care service for the elderly, this essay systematically reviews the development of the hospice care policies in China, comprehend the development obstacles of this service in China by analyzing its current practice, and then make further institutional exploration for this service to draw attention of the educational circle.

Part I. The development status of the hospice care for the elderly in China

As mentioned before, hospice care aims to provide positive support for terminal patients, improve their quality of life by relieving pain or other uncomfortable symptoms, and help the patients to live through the last stage of life with dignity. The hospice care for the elderly refers to a special hospice care provided to a group of people whose ages are over 60 and their relatives, and it is a key point of hospice care from both the international and domestic practice (Zhang 2009). There is great significance to add the terms of "for the elderly" and "service" on the basis of hospice care to form a new term "the hospice care for the elderly". …

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