Pioneering success in rural nursing homes

Updated: 2014-05-02 11:14

By Zheng Jinran in Handan, Hebei (China Daily)

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"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.

Through years of development, Feixiang county has improved on the model, even making it a national pilot in rural nursing home reform.

Guo just needs to bring his own food and that's all. He can live in the room free of charge with the bed and other necessary furniture donated by others.

In addition, the county government will subsidize Guo and every single resident in this type of nursing home with 350 yuan ($56) a year.

The village pays for electricity, water and other charges that average about 2,000 yuan annually.

"Though we spend more for this nursing home, we also get subsidies from the county, which eases our financial burden," said Cai, the village chief, adding that the rural villages usually have limited revenues, which may be a big problem for others to follow their example.

According to regulations released by the county government, every nursing home will get a maximum subsidy of 100,000 yuan.

With encouragement from the county as well as provincial and central governments, the number of the new rural nursing homes expanded quickly.

By the end of July 2012, all villages in Feixiang county had their own nursing homes - 249 in total - providing for all the elderly in need.

Hebei has also released a plan to promote the initiative in other rural areas.

Wang Baozhen, deputy director of the civil affairs department in Hebei, said more than half of counties and villages in the rural areas of the province now have such nursing homes allowing seniors to live together with the necessary support from governments.

"I have filed proposals with the range of governments to give more financial support," he said, adding that as a senior citizen he understands the feeling of living alone.

Though in this model the elderly help each other, reducing the expense of hiring doctors and nurses, the homes also attract doctors who serve as volunteers.

Cai, the village chief, said a medical team lives inside with the elderly.

"Many teams from other provinces have visited our nursing homes, learning from us," he said. "I hope there will be more for the rural elderly."

After an hour of weeding, Guo watered his vegetables, a little tired but smiling. Remembering his roommate likes fresh vegetables, he carried some as he headed to their room.

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