Chinese children have shouldered the responsibility of caring for their elderly parents for centuries. But as China's population ages, senior care services are becoming increasingly popular. Chinese authorities recently introduced new guidelines to ensure the country's senior care market develops in line with international standards.
A retired professor from East China Normal University, Xie Youlan has been living in Qinheyuan, a nursing home for over six years. Today, as usual, she dines with her friends at Qinheyuan’s cafeteria. After that, they pay with their Universal Cards. That's not uncommon for people who work in schools or offices but it's a symbol of new ideas for senior care in facilities like this.
"You can see there’s a black circle on the back, which means if an old person feels not well and can’t walk or even doesn’t feel like walking whilst he or she can’t yell or has the strength to pick up a cell phone, they can just press here. Our medics and secretaries will come for them as soon as possible. Help is on the way perhaps even before your families find out. This is basically a safety guard for us and that’s where I see the difference between the Universal Card and cards used in other places, it takes care of our well-being, as well as our consumer and entertainment demands. Having all those things guaranteed, we do live a happy and safe life in here," Xie said.
Qinheyuan Shanghai is a senior care facility that provides nursing and medical services for its members. Not only does the sophisticated intelligent system integrates identification, consumption, gate pass, and tracking, provides the nursing home with a thorough management model. It also serves as a bridge that connects seniors and their children.
"Let’s take the cafeteria for instance. How do I know what my parents eat for lunch today? It’s easy to learn through the Back Office System because when they swipe the card I’d know whether they had fish or pork. This makes those parent-child phone calls much easier. It’s like: Dad, why are you still eating meat with your blood lipid level? It’s one of those behaviors that may seem simple but actually shows you care. So I believe the future of the senior care industry stands with the Internet," Xi Zhiyoong, Chairman of the Board, Qinheyuan, said.
There are special solutions to, for seniors living at home, too. They include e-aid and smart devices for monitoring, health exams and emergency calls provided by e-ling. The devices all integrate the user’s information on the app port to help make interconnections between parents and children possible.
"Target clients of this app are children of senior citizens. They can see with e-nurse that their father or mother is using it at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, it’s connected to a camera, via which they can see their parents’ real-time living status. Results from our health examining device will be sent to our platform and then delivered to the app on their smart phones so they’ll know about their parents’ health conditions at home," Tian Yi, VP of e-ling (Shenzhen) Information Technology Co. Ltd, said.
The National Working Commission on Aging says China now has more 50,000 registered senior care facilities. About 13,000 of the facilities are privately operated. About 30% of those facilities are operating with losses while 50% break even. That leaves only 20% that are profitable. Overall, senior care service is an area that awaits development as it trends towards a future of high-tech and smart services. This outlook has given rise to companies like Yunbao, Sankai and Jiejiatong, that provide technological solutions for the senior care industry.