As Beijing's top legislature issued a regulation on home-based care for the aged in the municipal two sessions, deputies urged the government to take supporting measures to ensure its effectiveness.
The regulation, which aroused heated discussions among deputies and members of the Beijing committee of the people's congress and political consultative conference, aims to provide services that senior citizens demand and increase their quality of life. It is also the first issued by the local government to tackle its aging population.
By the end of 2014, the population of elderly people in the city aged 65 and over exceeded 3 million, and it is estimated to rise to 4 million by 2020, according to the statement provided by the Municipal People's Congress.
In 2013, Beijing had 2.92 million elderly permanent residents - 474,000 were over 80 and 450,000 were unable to look after themselves - the statement said.
A recent survey by the legislature found that 96 per cent of the elderly prefer home-based care to living in a nursing home that makes dining, healthcare and emergency rescue priorities.
Communities are asked to provide dining rooms for elderly people and a door-to-door service for those unable to go out. The regulation also proposes introducing emergency contact devices for the incapacitated or elderly living alone at home.
Health administrations in each district should establish a health record for the aged in order to provide medical care and treatment in accordance with the record.
The regulation met with general approval but some committee members suggested the government supplement it by taking more specific measures.
Yang Jiefu, a political adviser and director of the Heart Center at Beijing Hospital, said it is necessary to ask a third-party institute to evaluate the home-based care or nursing services for the elderly.
"The third-party system can supervise how homecare assistants work and whether services are effective or not, which improves the quality of nursing institutes," Yang added.
Zhu Jianyue, a deputy and lawyer from Xicheng district, agreed and suggested the government provide subsidies for the third-party system to educate homecare assistants and set up a database about them.
"If someone is unqualified or the source of complaints by the elderly or their families, his or her next job will be affected," Zhu said.
"Meanwhile, we can establish some housekeeper unions in communities. As most of them are from other provinces, they also need the sense of belonging. It'll make migrant workers better able to settle and work in the city," he added.