March 11, 2010

CHINA: Day care, elderly services to expand declares welfare official

. BEIJING, China / The Global Times / March 11, 2010 Wang Zhenyao, director of the social welfare and charity affairs office under the ministry promised that every province in the nation was encouraged to launch a monthly allowance program. Photo: Xinhua By Ji Beibei The elderly will soon have more access to day care services while those 80 and above will get a monthly allowance beginning this year, an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said. Wang Zhenyao, director of the social welfare and charity affairs office under the ministry, spoke during a meeting at the two sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Tuesday. He promised that every province in the nation was encouraged to launch a monthly allowance program and that a day care nursery home for the aged would be built in every community in the country within five years. Wang did not say how the allowance would be distributed or when it will begin specifically. Some provinces and cities started giving out allowances in different ways while others have not, creating an imbalance in elderly benefits, Wang said. Chongqing announced a plan last year to build 100 nurseries in 20 communities and the elderly will be allowed to choose between day care full-time services. There were mixed sentiments Wednesday about the hodge-podge of government programs. Hou Chuanji, 72, a villager from Shandong Province, told the Global Times Wednesday his 99-year-old father is not entitled to the monthly allowance, but those in a neighboring village receive 60 yuan ($8) every month. "It would be nice if we can get the allowance," Hou said. Beijing has been giving out coupons that are worth at least 100 yuan ($14) each month since 2008. Those who are 90 can use them to buy groceries and other items provided by companies that signed contracts with the city's neighborhood committees, Beijing Evening News reported earlier. A Beijing resident surnamed Wang, whose 81-year-old husband enjoy the benefits every month, told the Global Times that they prefer a cash allowance over coupons. A staff member who works in a neighborhood committee of Beijing told the Global Times Wednesday that some residents complained that they cannot use the coupons for goods and services provided by companies that did not sign contracts. A nursing home for the aged, which charged 600 yuan ($87) each month, operated by that neighborhood committee was closed because of a lack of sufficient funds, qualified nursing staff and lack of popularity among the elderly. "It would be wiser for governments to support the program with money and policy to allow more community members to provide such services," the staff member who refused to be named said. Senior Citizen Cooperative, a Beijing-based non-profit organization that signed contracts with the government last month to provide elderly services, said there's a shortage of qualified workers with training in healthcare. "The majority of those who came here asking about nursing positions were migrant works or laid-off workers," An Yu, from the cooperative, told the Global Times Wednesday. "Taking care of the aged is a sophisticated profession." In 2009, there were more than 18 million Chinese over 80, and in 2008 there were 169 million people who were 60 or above. There are 20,000 qualified elderly caretakers in China, but there is a need for 10 million professionals, Beijing Times reported Wednesday. [rc] Copyright by Global Times © 2007-2010