【英语中国】寻找中国式养老院 Chinese accept reality of elderlycare sector but not at any price

  • A+
所属分类:双语中国

2014-6-23 06:59

小艾摘要: On a mild spring day in Shanghai, outside the Xing Bao Zhonghuan “senior living community”, an old lady rode a tricycle around the forecourt, while a group of spry elders performed tai chi exercises ...
Chinese accept reality of elderlycare sector but not at any price
On a mild spring day in Shanghai, outside the Xing Bao Zhonghuan “senior living community”, an old lady rode a tricycle around the forecourt, while a group of spry elders performed tai chi exercises to a video playing on a television.

After that, there followed half an hour of “finger exercises”, plus an after-lunch lesson in how to paint a chicken, using traditional Chinese brush techniques.

There was hardly a wheelchair to be seen, and no one who looked like a nurse. This was the kind of eldercare facility many industry analysts predicted would not be popular in China, where demand was forecast to be highest for medical facilities where seniors would go to be cared for round-the-clock – not to ride tricycles.

China’s one-child policy has skewed its population toward the grey end, presenting an opportunity for the eldercare industry. By 2030, the proportion over 65 could have doubled to 18 per cent, from 9 per cent as recently as 2011, according to UN data. By mid-century, China could have nearly 500m aged over 60 – more than the population of the US.

But not every demographic crisis is a fertile opportunity, as some local and foreign investors in China’s retirement home sector have found.

Though there is a shortage of hospital beds for Chinese pensioners needing long-term care or medium-term rehabilitation, retirement homes that provide significant medical services have, unexpectedly, proved less popular than facilities where seniors live independently with little nursing.

Foreign-invested providers say they have run up against barriers, from culture to cost, that have made it hard to fill even a few hundred beds in a city the size and wealth of Shanghai, with more than 3.5m seniors.

“We have not seen the demand for assisted living that we expected,” says Mark Erickson, chief operating officer of Starcastle Senior Living, which opened the 18,000 square metre Xing Bao Zhonghuan in a northern suburb of Shanghai in 2013. Starcastle is a joint venture between Fortress Investments and China’s Fosun, which has interests in real estate and healthcare.

Michael Li of rival Cascade Healthcare, backed by Columbia Pacific and Emeritus, one of the largest senior housing companies in the US, says: “Starcastle doesn’t make sense to anybody, but it has been working.”

It has achieved a higher occupancy rate than Cascade’s recently opened, more heavily medical facility in Shanghai’s Xuhui district, which has still filled only half its 59 rooms. Cascade is now developing a senior home on the other side of Shanghai, which will look less like a nursing home.

“The overall climate is favourable, the government and society are all encouraging senior care, there are so many people who need it and people are beginning to appreciate it,” says Mr Li, who worked in senior care in the US before coming back to his native China.

Previously, in a culture heavily influenced by Confucian notions of filial piety, sending your elder to a nursing home in China was “unheard of”, says Mr Li.

“But as the society progresses, more and more people don’t have any choice but to accept reality: we have to work, we commute, we have our kids,” he adds. And with more only children marrying other only children, there are fewer young people to care for each elder.

But price is an issue: an average room in the Xuhui facility can cost Rmb10,000 ($1,600) a month or more, and as much as Rmb15,000 per month more for nursing care. Many Chinese elders, raised in times of famine and political upheaval, have led a frugal life and would rather leave behind their money than spend it.

Middle-aged children are often able and willing to pay, but Mr Li says that “some families insist we don’t tell the parents how much it costs .?.?. or they won’t stay”.

And even at levels that he admits “shock” some locals unused to the high costs of eldercare in developed societies, Cascade is not making money. “We aren’t even talking about a return yet; we are just trying to stop the losses,” he says. Beijing has encouraged private retirement home operators to fill the gap in senior care, even offering incentives to local operators. But state insurance will not pay for private care, and Chinese seniors often do not trust private healthcare.

“Some groups are offering a highly medical product .?.?. comparable with a skilled nursing facility in the US. The challenge is that you need to charge between Rmb15,000 and Rmb20,000 a month just to cover operations and Rmb25,000 to Rmb30,000 to make any money, and that is not where the market is for private pay long-term care in China,” says Chris Alberti, co-founder of Cascade.

But Zhang Fengguan, 65, is certain Xing Bao Zhonghuan is worth the money. “At first my son strongly objected because he thought it was not filial to send an elder to a place such as this. But this is just an inevitable choice for us. My son is an only child, he has a 14-year-old daughter, he is busy .?.?. the only problem is the price here is a bit high. But we have been living a hard life our entire lifetime. It think it’s reasonable now for us to have something great.”

Additional reporting by Zhang Yan

一个和煦的春日,在上海星堡中环“养老社区”,一个老太太正绕着前院骑三轮车,还有一群身姿矫健的老年人,在跟着电视打太极拳。

之后是半小时的“手指操”,外加一堂下午课,教授国画小鸡画法。

养老社区里基本看不到轮椅,也看不到貌似护士的人。许多行业分析师曾预测称,像这样的养老服务在中国不会受欢迎,他们曾预测,中国需求最大的养老服务是面向老年人的全天候护理保健服务,而不是像这样,让老年人自己骑三轮车。

中国的计划生育政策让中国的人口结构老龄化,为老年服务行业带来机遇。联合国(UN)数据显示,到2030年,65岁以上人群所占比例将从2011年的9%增长一倍,达到18%。到本世纪中期,中国将有近5亿人超过60岁,这个数字超过美国人口总数。

但人口危机并不总带来发财机会,正如最近一些投资中国养老院行业的本土和外国投资者发现的那样。

尽管医院病床数量不足以满足所有需要中长期康复护理的退休人员,但出人意料的是,能够提供大量医疗服务的养老院,事实上不如那些不提供多少护理服务、让老年人独立生活的养老社区受欢迎。

外资养老院表示,他们遇到各式各样的障碍,从文化到价格,在上海这样有逾350万老年人的富裕大城市,他们的区区几百张床位都很难住满。

星堡老年服务(Starcastle Senior Living)首席运营官艾马克(Mark Erickson)说:“协助式生活服务的需求没有我们预想的那样高。”星堡2013年在上海北部郊区开了一个1.8万平米的养老社区——星堡中环。星堡是峰堡(Fortress)和中国复星(Fosun)合资成立的。中国复星涉足房地产和医护行业。

星堡的对手凯健国际(Cascade Healthcare)的李飞东(Michael Li)表示:“星堡在任何人看来都不合常理,但它的模式效果不错。”凯健由Columbia Pacific和美国最大养老集团之一Emeritus共同投资。

星堡的入住率高于凯健最近在上海徐汇区新开的更偏重护理的老年中心,该中心59间房只有一半入住。凯健正在上海另一头开发一个新的老年社区,该社区将不会那么像护理中心。

李飞东说:“整体气候是有利的,政府和社会都鼓励发展养老服务,有那么多人需要这种服务,人们也开始认可这种服务。”李飞东回国之前,在美国从事过养老服务行业。

李飞东说,以前,受儒教关于孝道的思想影响,将老人送去养老院在中国是“闻所未闻”的。

他补充说:“但随着社会进步,越来越多人别无选择,只有接受现实:我们得工作,我们得出去上班,我们有自己的孩子。”此外夫妻双方都是独生子女的情况越来越常见,每个子女得照顾更多老人。

但价格是个问题:凯健国际徐汇苑一个房间的每月房租费用可达1万元人民币(合1600美元)乃至更高,还有每月1.5万元的护理费用。中国的老人很多在饥荒和政治动荡中长大,一辈子生活节俭,宁愿把钱留给子女也不愿花掉。

他们的子女大多已年届中年,有能力也有意愿花这份钱,但李飞东说,“一些家庭坚决不让我们告诉老人这里的费用是多少……否则他们就不肯住了”。

李飞东自己也承认,一些不习惯于发达社会那种高昂老年护理费用的中国人,被他们的价格“吓着了”。然而即便以这样的价格,凯健仍然不赚钱。李飞东说:“我们甚至还没开始说回报的事,只是在努力减少亏损。”中国政府鼓励私营养老院运营商填补养老服务的空缺,甚至向本土运营商提供了激励。但私营护理服务的费用不在国家社保保障范围内,中国老人也不信任私营养老院。

凯健联合创始人艾博迪(Chris Alberti)说:“一些公司提供非常偏重医疗护理的养老服务……跟美国的高级护理院不相上下。挑战在于,能够收回运营成本的定价就要1.5万至2万元人民币,能够盈利的定价要2.5万至3万元人民币,这不符合中国市场对私人长期护理的需求。”

但现年65岁的张峰观(音译)觉得星堡中环绝对物有所值。“一开始我儿子强烈反对,因为他觉得把老人送到这种地方不孝。但我们其实别无选择。我只有我儿子这一个孩子,他有个14岁的女儿,工作又忙……唯一的问题是这里的价格有点高。但我们过了一辈子苦日子。我觉得现在也应该享享福了。”

张嫣补充报道

译者/何黎

本文关键字:双语阅读,小艾英语,双语网站,双语中国,实时资讯,互联网新闻,ERWAS,行业解析,创业指导,营销策略,英语学习,可以双语阅读的网站!
  • 我的微信
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin
  • 微信公众号
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin

发表评论

:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: