A respite-care provider (C) measures the blood pressure of a senior resident in Fengtai District in Beijing. [people.cn]
Thanks to a program of providing "respite care" to those looking after the disabled or the elderly people, Yan Yulan is able to take a short break after 10 years of looking after her husband.
Yan, a 73-year-old resident in Fengtai District in Beijing, is a beneficiary of the "respite-care program," which provides short-term breaks for carers who have looked after disabled elderly people or the elderly people suffering from dementia all the year round.
The program was initiated in Fengtai District in October 2018 in order to enable those family carers to take a rest. The program has been promoted in Shanghai, Guangzhou and more cities in the country.
The district plans to pay for professional nursing workers for four days every month to relieve 1,500 caregivers in families who care for disabled elderly people or the elderly people suffering from dementia, according to local authorities.
Data show that in 2017 the aging population exceeded 240 million, accounting for 17.3 percent of the country's total population; the elderly with disability or dementia numbered 45 million. They will go up to 480 million and 100 million respectively by 2050.
Some districts and counties, including Huangpu and Pudong districts, in Shanghai, have been providing community-based respite care to family caregivers since 2012.
In 2017, an elderly nursing center in Gulou District, in Nanjing, capital of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, offered the respite care services for free. The program was funded by local governmental departments and it was piloted in other districts as well.
In the Balizhuang Subdistrict in Chaoyang District in Beijing, the respite-care program has been integrated into its elderly care service system.
"It not only improves the lives and work of caregivers, but also indirectly improves the lifestyle of the elderly being cared for, so as to avoid the abandonment of the disabled or the elderly, or to avoid tragedies caused by the excessive pressure on caregivers," said Zhang Fulai, an official at the subdistrict office.
Balizhuang began to offer the respite-care service in 2014. One year later, it set up a more detailed plan for the program.
Liu Aijing, head of the civil affairs division of Balizhuang Subdistrict, said various elderly care services have been developed through cooperation with nursing homes and medical-service providers, based on the mode of government purchase of services.
Families that qualify for the program can submit an application for respite care to their local neighborhood committees.
Although the program is developing, there are still challenges brought by the liability risks.
Commenting on challenges brought by the lack of a legal basis, Zhang called for legal protection to ease the respite-care providers' fear should there be an incident and to promote the normalization of the service.
(Source: China Women's News/ Translated and edited by Women of China)
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