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SW China's Chongqing Explores New Models of Elderly Care

By ZHAN CHENICHONGQING|Apr 29,2022

Chongqing- With the aging population, medical services with different models, including home, community, and institutional care, have become more prominent and widely available for the elderly in China.

Located in southwestern China, Chongqing Municipality has 32.05 million permanent residents, of which 7.01 million are people aged 60 or above (21.87%), including 5.47 million people aged 65 or above (17.08%), citing data from the seventh national census.

Nowadays, with a population of 264 million people aged 60 and above, China has the most significant number of elderly people globally. How China helps the elderly enjoy a happy old age is important to the well-being of ordinary people.

Traditional Chinese medicine hospital

In Jiulongpo District, Chongqing, a nursing center is only separated by a wall from a traditional Chinese medicine hospital. A short distance allows elders to seek medical advice directly via a corridor inside. 

“Medical support is becoming more crucial in improving elderly care,” said the center’s general manager. “Since the Jiulongpo District became one of the first national pilot units for the integration of medical and elderly care services, our center has built a medical service team with the support of the traditional Chinese medicine hospital, which the elderly’s overall recovery and the families’ satisfaction have significantly improved.”

 “We found that the elderly in centers have common needs for rehabilitation treatment, chronic disease management, and referral of critical illnesses. More importantly, these medical services need to be eligible for medical insurance reimbursement,” he said. “Thus, we decided to set up a traditional Chinese medicine hospital that relied on the nursing center. The elderly can enjoy not only the nursing service but also the convenience of seeing the doctor.”

old care

The professional medical staffs accompanied the aged. (iChongqing file photo)

A first nursing facility in the community hospital

The Shapingba District, Chongqing, enjoys access to the first nursing care facility in the community hospital. Now it has become a characteristic, integrated department with medical treatment, nursing, health care, and entertainment for the elderly, highlighting psychological and humanistic care.

The nursing department aims to provide full service, relying on traditional Chinese medicine. “Doctors regularly issued health prescriptions for the elderly and implemented physical examinations. They not only provide rehabilitation guidance for the sick elderly but also health care guidelines for the healthy,” said a department representative. 

The nursing department cares about the elderly’s physical health. It helps them relieve loneliness by organizing activities such as watching TV, playing chess, playing cards, singing, and telling stories, making them feel warm and caring.

Medical and elderly care services in future

In recent years, Chongqing has promoted the deep integration and development of medical care services. By the end of 2021, the city had 173 medical and nursing institutions with 50,400 beds and 20,900 employees, according to the municipal health commission.

By 2022, all medical institutions in the city will open green channels for the elderly to seek medical treatment. Each district or county will have at least one geriatric nursing home attached to hospitals and no less than five institutions. The average life expectancy will reach 78.5 years.

Under the Healthy China Initiative, the proportion of geriatrics departments in secondary and higher general hospitals should achieve 50% and 90% in 2022 and 2030, while the third-level traditional Chinese medicine hospitals’ should reach 75% and 90%.

Next, Chongqing will establish a cooperation mechanism between medical institutions and elderly care centers, targeting the general medical and elderly care abilities among the related institutions by 2025. Chongqing plans to extend the elderly care service chain to fully cover their life cycle from health management, disability, and dementia care, to palliative care.

(Wang Yuxuan, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)

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