"A spring breeze blew into Sijiqing."
This is how seniors at the Beijing-based nursing home recalled a visit in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
During the visit to the Sijiqing Home for the Elderly, Xi chatted with senior citizens, asked them about their health, families and lives.
Xi stressed the need to improve the management and service quality of elderly care institutions to ensure that every senior citizen can live a carefree, healthy, comfortable and happy life.
More than five years on, Liu Jinwen, a member of the elderly fashion models team at Sijiqing, said the visit had a great impact on them.
"Senior citizens should maintain a positive outlook on life and spend their old age gracefully," Liu said. "To that end, we set up the models team to make our lives more 'beautiful!'"
Liu is just one of the growing number of happy seniors in China.
Under Xi's leadership, the country has over the past few years formulated a series of measures to boost elderly care and witnessed a marked improvement of the lives of the senior citizens.
Better nursing homes
The services at nursing homes are related to the happiness of more than 200 million old people in China, especially the 40 million of them who have lost the ability in full or in part to take care of themselves.
In 2017, a four-year campaign was launched nationwide to boost nursing homes' service quality. More rules and regulations on the management of elderly care institutions have also been drawn up.
At Sijiqing, a lot of cultural activities were organized. A "Silver Age" college was set up. And the nursing home teamed up with a local hospital to provide fast access for senior citizens to quality medical treatment.
"It's really convenient now," said Zhang Jin, a Sijiqing nursing home resident.
Improved community-level services
Another field of senior care that has benefited a lot from policy support is community-level services.
Community-based elderly care is important to China's old-age care system. About 90 percent of the Chinese elderly prefer to spend their later years at home, 6 percent at community-level elderly care centers and only 4 percent at nursing homes, according to statistics.
But community-level elderly care centers also play a key role in providing food and medical services to senior citizens who opt to stay at home.
Liu Jianguo, 86, and his wife are among the people who benefit.
The couple, living in the southeastern city of Fuzhou, go to the community elderly daycare center almost every day.
"My wife and I usually spend the whole day here," Liu said, praising the center for its environment, facilities and staff.
Across China, all urban communities and more than half of rural communities had established community-based old-age service facilities as of the end of 2018.
In China, a comprehensive elderly care service system is taking shape, meeting the needs of the elderly who prefer to spend later years at home, community-level centers or nursing homes.
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