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June 8, 2012

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Pudong seeks investment in caring for the elderly

The city's Pudong New Area is encouraging foreign investment to tap the senior care industry amid the city's growing number of elderly people, officials said yesterday.

In a pilot program, Pudong will first start to register foreign-invested senior service firms as enterprises seeking commercial returns. Some previous restrictions on qualifications, including the foreign firms' experience and funding, may be loosened in the trial run, officials said.

This was one of the 16 measures issued by the Pudong New Area government yesterday to encourage start-ups and new business.

"The pilot program is expected to explore and develop a feasible method to be applied in the whole city in the future," said Chen Xuejun, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Shanghai plans to gradually shift its elderly care service sector from being government-dominated to one oriented to the market to meet the soaring demand for senior care in the fast-aging society.

People over 60 accounted for about 23 percent of the city's total population at the beginning of last year, and it is estimated that the proportion will hit 30 percent by 2015. The aging population poses a major challenge for one-child families and the city, which already has an extreme shortage of elderly care services.

Many applicants complained they had to wait for years to get into a care home due to the shortage and lack of choices.

By the end of last year, Shanghai had 600-plus elderly care homes with about 100,000 beds, which can accommodate just 3 percent of Shanghai seniors. Most seniors staying at home are taken care of by ayi, or domestic helpers, due to the lack of senior care professionals.

Now the city aims to attract more foreign-invested elderly care centers, mainly targeting the high-end market, to provide more choice for residents and improve the general quality.

In another business development, Pudong is currently working with industrial and commercial authorities to allow individually owned businesses to smoothly transfer to small and micro-sized firms with an easier application process.


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