Basic support for the elderly

Updated: 2015-08-12 07:38

(China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Basic support for the elderly

A man from a social welfare center for the aged in Guiyang, Guizhou province, washes the feet of 87-year-old Cai Sifen. China is in great need of nursing home beds and professional caretakers for the elderly. [Photo by Qiao Qiming/For China Daily]

According to media reports, Li Shurong, an 84-year-old man in Pingdu county, Shandong province, who lives alone, almost starved to death. This shows some grassroots governments have failed to establish a social assistance system to help the elderly.

According to the wubao, or "Five Guarantees" policy, senior or disabled people unable to work and without a source of income should be provided with food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses. At the same time, the minimum living allowance policy should also cover people like Li.

The lack of assistance for Li indicates the failed functioning of the country's established social security and assistance facilities.

Given that all of the money used for the Five Guarantees and the minimum living allowances comes from taxpayers, the country should put in place a strict administrative procedure and monitoring mechanism to ensure the money is not misused. Without effective mechanisms and measures for their implementation, any system, no matter how well-conceived, will be to no avail.

International experiences also indicate that the timely intervention of social workers is also needed to help the elderly in need, especially in impoverished rural areas. Due to the lack of a sound social work system, such kind of support should be undertaken by grassroots officials in China's rural areas and these who fail to fulfill this responsibility should be held accountable.

China now faces a growing elderly population, particularly in its rural areas, which are witnessing the exodus of the younger generation to cities where they can earn more money. This requires the country to double its efforts to build a broad institutional arrangement that offers basic guarantees and services to the elderly. Li's experience also highlights the need to make a thorough overhaul of the country's extant social security network.

The above is an article on Tuesday.