Lu Renliang and his wife Huang Baodi enjoy their lunch at a service center for elderly people in Jing'an district in Shanghai last January.
Elderly care remained one of the most discussed issues among Shanghai's lawmakers and political advisers during the city's ongoing annual two sessions.
While the city plans to provide more elderly care facilities, participating deputies to the Shanghai People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee suggest more efforts should be taken to ensure adequate care provisions for the city's rapidly growing senior population.
As the country's most populous city, Shanghai is home to about 4.58 million people aged above 60, accounting for nearly one-third of the city's 14 million registered residents.
Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said in the municipal government report that in the coming year the municipality plans to add 50 new community-based service centers, 80 elderly day care centers, 7,000 more beds for elderly care and 1,000 beds for those suffering from dementia.
"We will do everything within our capacity to prioritize the improvement of public wellbeing and tilt fiscal revenue toward improving people's livelihood, so that social welfare keeps pace with economic growth," Ying said.
The city has more than 700 elderly care centers providing about 137,000 beds, as of the end of 2017.
Since 2015, the city has also been exploring a pilot model of small-scale community senior care homes, which provide short-term services for elderly people who live nearby.
After breaking her left arm, Peng Xiulan, 75, moved into the Bansongyuan community senior care center in Huangpu district, which is less than 15 minutes walk from her home.
"The caregivers and meals are good here, and I feel at home," Peng said. "It also makes it easier for my daughter to visit me after work or on weekends."
Opened in December, the center has 28 beds in an area of 500 square meters. The facility provides short-term care for elderly people like Peng, who are undergoing rehabilitation after hospital treatment and want to live near their homes, said Gu Dingyun who works in the Bansongyuan community. "It's convenient for the elderly as it's embedded in the community and its small size fits the downtown area where space is expensive and limited," he added.
With government subsidies, the monthly charge for the elderly at such a facility ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 yuan (0 to 0), and there are now 127 facilities in the city.
While such facilities have proved both efficient and popular, Chen Fangyuan, a political adviser and vice-chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, suggested the city should enhance professional training to address a growing shortage of reliable senior care professionals.
Chen said despite a growing number of care facilities, their daily operation relied heavily on migrant workers, who have received little training in professional senior care, get low pay and are extremely mobile.
Chen Qi, a deputy from Hongkou district, called for efforts to teach the elderly to use mobile applications.
"While technology brings convenience to the younger generation, it poses difficulties for the old," Chen wrote.
Chen suggested communities provide hands-on lessons on how to use mobile applications for the elderly, so they can enjoy the convenience of modern mobile technology.