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China faces shortage of nursing help (2)

By He Dan  (China Daily)

08:41, October 23, 2012

Lin Xiaoling, 22, works at a private nursing home on the outskirts of Beijing. She has earned a monthly salary of about 2,000 yuan ($320) since she graduated in July with a bachelor's degree in nursing for the aged.

"It's a tiring job,” Lin said, adding that she works round-the-clock to take care of more than 30 people. She helps them take showers and eat, among other things.

"I love my job. Being needed makes me feel proud and happy,” she said. "But I don't know how much longer I can do it. I can't help feeling regret about my career choice after I heard that my classmates, who chose to work in companies or hospitals, earn much more than I do.”

The shortage of caregivers is felt not only in Beijing.

A nursing home for seniors in Tianjin added 400 extra beds this year because of its expanding business, the Workers' Daily reported on Sunday. It also planned to recruit 200 caregivers, but only half of that goal has been achieved after six months, the report said.

In another media report, the head of a nursing home in Chengdu in Sichuan complained that his organization wasn't able to attract any college graduates after holding job fairs in five nursing schools last year.

More training

The government has taken action to speed up the training of caregivers to respond to the needs of China's rapidly aging population.

Yang Genlai, deputy director of the Vocational Skills Identification Guidance Center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said that the government has allocated 30 million yuan from the revenues of the welfare lottery to train more caregivers for the elderly this year, twice as much as the amount in 2010.

The ministry also set an ambitious target to train 6 million caregivers by the end of 2020, based on a working plan released in 2011.

However, Guo Ping, an assistant research fellow at the China Research Center on Aging, said he is not optimistic that the situation will be fixed soon.

"Nursing homes need to improve working conditions for caregivers, such as bringing in more equipment to make their jobs easier,” he said. "Given the complexity of the problem, the shortage of caregivers will be around for some time.”

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