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Thousands of Nursing Home Beds Planned

Shanghai will provide home-based nursing for an additional 20,000 senior citizens by the end of this year, government spokeswoman Jiao Yang announced yesterday.

She also said elderly people living below the poverty line and those who can't take care of themselves will be eligible for financial subsidies ranging from 150 yuan (US$19) to 250 yuan a month, depending on their age.

Currently, there are 2.6 million people in the city over the age of 60, accounting for 19.28 percent of Shanghai's total population, and that figure is expected to rise to 3.12 million by 2010.

Shanghai only has 40,000 beds in nursing homes for the elders, however, and only 30,000 elderly people have access to nurses at home.

"Providing home aid is the only choice," said Peng Xizhe, director of Fudan University's Institute of Population Research. "Only 1.5 of every 100 elderly people have the chance to be taken care of by professional institutions."

To improve living conditions for the city's senior citizens, government departments are also planning to introduce a reverse mortgage system adopted in developed countries in the near future, according to Peng.

Under the system, home owners can receive a monthly income in return for equity in their property. The plan still needs to be approved, and the timetable for implementing it will depend on the real estate market, Peng said.

The government also plans to set up 10,000 new beds for the elders in nursing homes by the end of the year, and provide a 5,000-yuan subsidy for each bed.

The government yesterday announced 18 policies to encourage the establishment of non-profit nursing institutions, including tax breaks, discounts on pubic utility fees and low-interest loans.

(Shanghai Daily September 15, 2005)

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