Behind China's Shift from Family Obligation to Community Care

Aging Today, July/August 2008 | Go to article overview

Behind China's Shift from Family Obligation to Community Care


"In my opinion, ageing in place is an important means of solving the growing problems in eldercare.... We could say that ageing in place represents the future of elder services in China," said Li Ben Gong, a representative of China's National People's Congress and standing deputy of the China National Committee on Ageing (CNCA). Li's March 9, 2008 interview with China.com was translated into English by Community Alliance in its June 2008 issue.

Li explained that CNCA and several other government agencies recently issued the document Suggestions for Fully Promoting Ageing in Place, which outlines the basic plan for developing a national aging-in-place program that was discussed during the 11th Five-Year Plan meeting of all Chinese government branches.

Li added, "Over the course of the next five years we will see relatively comprehensive ageing-in-place services become available in all the big-city communities of China. Along with rural areas, we will try our best to make sure that 80% of towns will have elder-service centers, including elder homes, ageing in place and community services. We also plan on providing one-third of all villages with recreation centers for the elderly that can provide extra services and hold community activities."

A key reason for the change, he said, is that CNCA's research showed that at present, 6%-8% of China's elders end up receiving institutional care. That percentage translates into a need for between 9 million and 12 million nursing home beds. But China now has only 1.73 million beds, Li said. He went on, "This is just one of the ways in which current models of eldercare are not meeting the needs of the elderly."

PREVAILING ISSUES

In the same issue of Community Alliance, a separate article headlined "Views on Promoting Comprehensive Home Care Services" describes prevailing issues that led to China's new commitment to aging in place.

Writer Zhou Li Juan explains that more than 30 years after China implemented its One Child Policy of family planning, "China's first single-child generation is facing the issues not only of how to care for their children, but also of how to care on both a fiscal and an emotional level for two sets of parents. …

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