PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] A nursing home industry is booming in China as a rapid increase in the proportion of its elderly population forces a nationwide shift from traditional family care to institutional care, according to new research by Brown University gerontologists.
The study, led by Zhanlian Feng, assistant professor of community health, and published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is the first systematic documentation of the growth and operation of nursing homes in Chinese cities. The demographics driving the trend, however, are better known: Experts with the U.S. Census Bureau project that China's over-65 population will rise from 8.3 percent of the population today to 22.6 percent (or 329 million people) in 2040.
Under a National Institutes of Health grant to co-author Vincent Mor, professor of medical science, Feng and colleagues at Brown, Georgia State, and Nanjing University found that the number of nursing homes in Nanjing grew from only three in 1980 to more than 140 in 2009. In Tianjin, where there are 136 nursing homes, only 11 existed before 1990. More than half of the nursing homes in the capital Beijing opened after 2000.
"Institution-based long-term care has been very rare in the country in the past," said Feng. "Even now it is still rare, but we've seen explosive growth, which is quite a phenomenon in a country where for thousands of years people have relied almost exclusively on the family for old age support."
As homes spring up by the score, Feng said, their operation has been subject to very little of the kind of oversight that Western nations realized decades ago was necessary often the hard way. Part of the reason is that to this point the government is largely uninvolved in financing the sector's growth spurt.
The government encourages development of long-term care facilities in the private sector, Feng said,
|Contact: David Orenstein|