Chapter 1: Introduction
The research topic of our Integrated Humanities SIA is health welfare in Shanghai. We have derived our hypothesis to be Shanghai government and local authorities has been providing sufficiently to the senior citizens in terms of medical and home services. In this research report, we plan to prove that our hypothesis is accurate by providing evidences from articles related to Shanghai’s health welfare for the elderly.
The purpose and objective of our report is to gain a better understanding of Shanghai’s health welfare, so as to provide concrete evidence to check the accuracy of our hypothesis. The scope for our research report is from facility and technology, medical subsidy, medical and home services provided and to the quality of medicine on elderly of Shanghai.
Our articles were mainly related to Shanghai’s health welfare and home services, and we have also extended our research report by comparing welfare articles of different countries with Shanghai’s. Also, we have conducted interviews to further prove our hypothesis.
Shanghai has a growing ageing population, and by 2030, Shanghai will have 5 to 6 million senior citizens aged over 60, and almost 30% of the total population. Statistics have shown that the elderly population, aged over 60, will rise by 140,000 every year from 2010 to 2020, compared with an average increase of 75,000 per year during the past five years. By 2030, Shanghai will have become the “oldest” city in China with one elderly person among every three people. As the number of elderly increases rapidly, the question is how will Shanghai will care and house for their ageing population.
Nursing homes and retirement villages are possible, however many elderly dislike moving to new places, hence we would like to find out how the government would deal with the ageing population situation, this would then allow us to gain a better insight about Shanghai’s welfare, its history and the significance of health welfare in the richest city in China. The reason why we chose Shanghai’s health welfare is because it is a very broad topic and understand how the government of a developed country like Shanghai cares about the people. Ageing population is a problem to most countries in the world currently, we would like to learn more about Shanghai’s strategies towards the problem and reflect it on Singapore.
Chapter 2: Background information to research question/hypothesis
Ever since the one-child policy started in China during the late 1970s, China has been facing an ageing population over the years. This is because fertility rates have been decreasing rapidly and the people have longer life spans compared to the previous centuries due to the improved healthcare provided in China. This caused a population age structure to be leaning towards the older age brackets, in other words, an ageing population, which is a common phenomenon in Shanghai as it is an economically thriving country.
The number of elderly in China, including Shanghai, is rising rapidly and the life span of the people has risen to an average 70 years, even higher in major cities such as Shanghai. The rapid ageing in China will soon outpace the ageing population of other countries’. China may be the first major country to grow old before it grows rich, as China’s age wave threatens to overwhelm the government budgets and family support networks.
Shanghai seem to have more old folks than young people these years as it is a major city, mentioned above. It is estimated that by 2025, one out of every three Shanghainese will be over 60 years of age. To worsen the situation, the Shanghainese born during the population boom from 1950 to early 1980s are now entering the age of retirement, causing a huge demand for elderly-focused health care, pensions and welfare.
Health welfare and services is especially essential for elderly who do not have families that take care of them. This will result in them being always helpless and having difficulty in providing themselves, and this might increase the possibility of medical emergency. The largest problem they face is loneliness, and this could increase the risk of them having health problems as their mood would be gradually affected by their mood.
Before 1978, the government provided normal services for elderly in Shanghai. There was no policy and few resources were given for the elderly. There were few welfare homes set up and they were mainly for the “three-nos”, which refers to elderly with no family support, no work ability and no means of livelihood.
In order to solve this problem caused by an ageing population, the government implemented a change in policy in 1978. Serving the three-nos elderly was still the priority, a change occurred in the financing and provisioning of welfare services, from closed-door policy to open-door policy in terms of financing, service provision, and from a care orientation to a care-and-rehabilitation orientation. Services for the elderly grew with the support and leadership of civil affairs administrative units at different levels of government.
The nationwide welfare scheme for the country’s huge elderly population was also suggested in 2001 by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and it has resulted in a rapid improvement in local welfare facilities. An extra 350,000m2 of activity centres have been built, along with the renovation and expansion of about 185 old people’s home, and 83 more day care centres have been established in the past three years. “Welfare houses are now available in every community, village and town,” said Xu Ling, director of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
Also, the government had paid for more than 140,000 senior citizens to get home services. According to Xu Ling, these free home services have provided employment for many local unemployed people. A personal alarm system had also been installed in the homes of 24,000 elderly people. The machines installed in their homes are connected to Shanghai Home Care services, so the elderly can get help by just pushing a button on the machine. The home care system team would then answer calls and coordinate assistance and services. The charge for the installations of the machine and services is reduced, even zero in certain cases. Ever since the nationwide welfare scheme was introduced in May 2001, the Shanghai Home Care services have handled more than 80,000 service calls and settled more than 1,000 calls for medical aid, fire alarm or emergencies.
Chapter 3: Limitations of research analysis/Justification of research method
There are many limitations to this research that we chose to do on. Firstly, we couldn’t decide on a welfare topic as China is a very big country and different regions have different sorts of welfare, some better than the others. In a country, there are many different aspects of welfare such as social, health and even animal welfare. Also, especially for China, each welfare topic has a very broad coverage. For example, China’s health welfare includes elderly health welfare, medical welfare, animal health welfare, and many others. Hence we had to decide 2 very important topics for our research project, both which could affect the results of this assigment if not chosen wisely.
Secondly, we do not know much about Shanghai’s welfare system. This was a very big obstacle for us in both the project and the initial step where we chose our research topic. As we did not learn about China’s welfare in school, we have little knowledge of it and the only way we can learn about it through external sources. This slowed us down at the start of the research as we have to spend a large amount of time learning and understand their welfare system ourselves before we can actually start on the assignment.
Thirdly, as we have to research online for our SIA topic, we do not know if the sources we read are reliable, and needed to use our comparison and reliability skills to cross reference to make sure that our resources are not biased. Also, we had difficulty looking for sources from books as many libraries do not have books with updated information about the welfare in China, let alone Shanghai.
Fourthly, as we are doing on welfare in Shanghai, most of the information would be written in Chinese. We had to Google for resources in Chinese, read through, understand and then translate in our own words into English for the report. To make things worse, this was not easy as most of the information were written in traditional Chinese characters which we are not familiar with. Also, the information were written in very deep and complicated Chinese which we had trouble understanding. Hence, we had to seek help from family, friend and constantly look up the dictionary. This not only tests our researching skills but also ability to make the best out of things when things are not as smooth sailing as we hoped.
Lastly, for our interview, we had difficulty finding interviewees from Singapore. As one of our group member’s parents are from China, we are very lucky to be able to have them to help us with the interview with their extensive knowledge of the Shanghai’s senior health welfare system. However, most of our parents are typical Singaporeans who do not know much about Shanghai’s senior health welfare system and hence are unable to help us with the interview. We had to ask around and find out who has at least some knowledge on the welfare system to help us with the interview, which took quite a while. Also, many of them are busy with work and hence do not have the time to help us in either the interview or looking for friends who can help us with the interview.