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April 10, 2020

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Are you being served? Senior services back on track in city

Senior services in the city are gradually returning to normal, Shanghai’s civil affairs bureau said yesterday.

On Wednesday, Zhong Fengxiu, 64, had her first get-together with friends outside her home since the novel coronavirus outbreak. The group chose the Caohejing community canteen in Xuhui District to meet over lunch.

The canteen mainly provides meals for seniors living in nearby residential compounds, as well as some of the area’s office workers. It suspended meal services during the height of the epidemic and reopened on Wednesday.

Zhong and her friends, two neighbors, live at a residential complex close to the canteen. She visited the canteen almost every day when it first opened in June last year.

“The dishes here cater to the palates of Shanghainese and are delicious,” Zhong told Shanghai Daily.

“I heeded authorities’ calls to stay at home for months, except for visits to supermarkets and wet markets. I organized this get-together after learning the canteen has reopened.”

“I’ve gotten bored with meals cooked at home and wanted a change,” said Yuan Dongdi, one of Zhong’s companions. “The food served at community-based canteens is safe and healthy.”

“The prices are quite affordable for retirees as well,” added Zhong.

The canteen usually has seating for 146, but this was cut to about 60 to prevent gathering, said Lu Xiaofeng, head of Shanghai Yuanyuan Catering Management Co, the canteen operator.

“We advise diners to keep their distance when seated, or sit one per table, and the frequency of disinfection of dishware and public areas inside the canteen has been stepped up,” he said.

All diners must have their temperature checked before entry, and only lunch service has resumed so far.

Dinner is expected to restart in late May.

The canteen now serves about 20 dishes every day, compared with 50 or so before the outbreak, Lu revealed.

It received 96 diners on its first day of reopening. Before the outbreak, the number was 500 to 600 daily.

“We expect the figure to grow next week because many do not know of the reopening yet,” said Lu.

“About 70 percent of diners are seniors, and most dishes served at the canteen are not spicy to satisfy their tastes.”

The canteen was opened after the Caohejing Subdistrict officials found that nearly 30 percent of seniors in the area had a need for meal services.

The daily capacity of the canteen is over 1,000 meals. It also offers food delivery service for the elderly.

The prices are about 15 to 20 percent lower than nearby restaurants and seniors can enjoy discounts, too.

It is also a social and event venue for seniors during non-meal times. The activity venue is expected to reopen in May, Lu stated.

By the end of 2019, Shanghai had 1,020 meal service spots for seniors, including 210 community-based ones with food delivery service, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

After the outbreak, canteens across the city suspended on-site dining services to ensure food safety and prevent gathering. And meals were delivered to seniors living alone or having financial difficulties, the bureau said.

Happy reunion

On-site dining services are now gradually resuming at canteens for the elderly, and these supply about 15,000 meals to senior diners at present, according to the bureau.

Meanwhile, at the Wuliqiao Subdistrict of Huangpu District, 85-year-old Shi Lanying recently had a happy reunion with Wang Ai’e, her home-care provider for the past five years.

The COVID-19 outbreak halted Wang’s visits for about a month as authorities prohibited some home-based services to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Home-care services for seniors include cleaning, cooking, medicine pick-up, bill payment, bathing assistance and accompanying the elderly to hospitals, to name a few, said Wang Xiaoshang, deputy director of the Wuliqiao Subdistrict Office.

The subdistrict has 160 seniors receiving the services, which have all resumed now, Wang revealed.

Shi lives alone and service provider Wang Ai’e visits her once every two days. The services cover cleaning, washing clothing, massage and cooking, with visits lasting two hours each.

“Her memory has deteriorated and I also need to remind her to check her blood pressure and take medicine,” Wang told Shanghai Daily.

“I missed Wang when the service was suspended due to the coronavirus because I could not handle all the housework alone,” said Shi.

Wang did not return to her hometown in Anhui Province during the Spring Festival holiday because of the epidemic. She provides the services for six clients in total.

“Although I was at home and off work for some time during the epidemic, my heart was with them,” she said.

“I did not know whether they were okay, which worried me, and I had to call them frequently. I like talking with them and treat them like my own parents as I have been providing service to them for such a long time.

“When I received an official’s call to resume work, I was very happy and visited grandma Shi immediately.”

Wang wears a mask and gloves while on the job. And she has her temperature measured twice a day.


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