Ministry of Civil Affairs’ five measures to support the rural elderly

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On January 25th, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released the “Community Service System Building Plan (2011-2015)”and the “Social Pension System Building Plan (2011-2015)”during its regular news conference, demonstrating how it was implemented during China’s 12th Five Year Plan and the prospects for the 13th Five Year Plan. According to Zhen Bingliang, vice director of the Social Benefits Center at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, rural elder care is a challenging issue. There are a large number of left-behind elderly, people of a very advanced age and senior citizens with empty nests who are currently leading extremely difficult lives.

The solutions that the Ministry of Civil Affairs has been exploring since the 12th Five Year Plan period include the following: first of all, transforming nursery homes into regional service centers for rural elderly, and enlarging their range of services; secondly, replicating and scaling up the successful case of the Handan Mutual Support Happy Home, a self-governing organization set up in former public institutions like schools where the elderly can socialize and the not-so-elderly can take care of those of even more advanced age (China has provided 3 billion RMB to 100 thousand mutual support happy homes during the 12th Five Year Plan period); thirdly, exploring the pilot approach in Liaoning Province of building care centers for the elderly who need heavy daily care such as the disabled elderly, the elderly with dementia, and the elderly with chronic diseases so as to lighten the burden on their families; fourthly, advancing urban and rural integration so as to combine urban technology and funds with the vast rural spaces; and finally, extending the coverage of the 840 urban information platforms on elderly profiles and services to the rural elderly in order to provide much needed services.