China's elderly care services have seen "notable progress" after a nationwide inspection last year in which more than 40,000 nursing homes were requested to "make improvements", the minister of civil affairs said on Thursday.
Huang Shuxian said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office that several other moves also contributed to the progress, including further opening up of the elderly care market to private capital.
"The moves will be continued to meet the needs of seniors," he said.
Statistics from the ministry show the number of private nursing homes in China saw a year-on-year increase of 7.8 percent, and elderly care facilities based in residential communities increased by 41.3 percent.
In the past few years, China has seen multiple gas poisoning incidents and fires in nursing homes involving childless seniors.
Two childless seniors were found dead of gas poisoning in January 2017 in a nursing home in Shaanxi province, and the organization was found to have management loopholes, according to a Shaanxi Daily report.
Gao Xiaobing, vice-minister of civil affairs, said the inspection found and rectified almost 200,000 hidden dangers in nursing homes nationwide and the effect was obvious, with accidents dropping by almost a quarter in 2017.
"But conflicts between supply and demand of elderly care services remain," she said.
Gao said that on one hand the quality of elderly care services－despite the progress－needs to be further improved, and on the other, seniors in China lack purchasing power.
Gao noted Chinese seniors' preferences for home-based care services, which entail support from the residential communities the seniors live in.
To further improve the quality of workers engaged in the industry, Gao called for a pay raise and more respect for the profession.