In Southwest China’s Chongqing, a mobile bathing service has emerged to cater to elderly people, particularly those with disabilities, who consider taking a simple shower or bath a luxury. The service has brought comfort and dignity to the seniors who can now access it. The elderly face difficulties in accessing proper bathing facilities due to mobility issues, which often limits their independence. The emergence of the mobile bathing service has significantly improved the lives of seniors in the community.
Liu Juchuan, an 80-year-old veteran with mobility issues, used to avoid taking baths before the service was offered. His aging wife also struggled to move around, and their children did not live with them. The couple preferred to wait until their children visited to help them or take quick showers rather than risk injury in a wet bathroom. However, their problems were solved when a mobile bath van started to frequent their community in the city’s Jiulongpo district three years ago.
The couple’s happiness is echoed by many other seniors who can now access the mobile bathing service. Liu expressed his gratitude, stating that they feel happy to have such a service. With the service’s introduction, seniors who face mobility issues, especially those with disabilities, can maintain their hygiene and independence. The emergence of the mobile bathing service is a crucial step towards improving the lives of elderly people who face difficulties in accessing bathing facilities.
During an inspection tour of an elder care service center in Shenyang, Liaoning province, President Xi Jinping emphasized that elder care programs and relevant industries should be vigorously developed as Chinese society ages. He further stated that related facilities should be built in areas with adequate conditions. The introduction of the mobile bathing service in Southwest China’s Chongqing is an example of how elder care services and industries can be improved to cater to the elderly population’s needs. It is an important step towards enhancing the dignity and comfort of the elderly population, who require proper and reliable care.
In October 2017, President Xi Jinping delivered a report at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, emphasizing the importance of China’s aging population and the need for the country to pursue a proactive national strategy to address this issue. The report called for the development of elder care programs and services, along with better care for the elderly who live alone. This, in turn, would ensure that basic elder care is accessible to all Chinese seniors.
The founder of Chongqing Sunshine Eldercare Service, Long Quanming, developed the mobile bath van after being inspired by the bathing troubles his father faced. In 2015, his father broke his tailbone and became partially disabled, which led Long to take an interest in the elder care industry. In 2017, he designed a fully equipped mobile bath van, which has received three national patents.
Data from the latest national census shows that China has 264 million people aged 60 and above, which accounts for about 18.7 percent of the population. In Chongqing, there are around 7 million elderly people, approximately 21.8 percent of the city’s population. This is a significant number of people who require better access to elder care services.
Chongqing’s Jiulongpo district is one of the areas where this problem is particularly acute. There are over 191,000 people aged 60 and above in the district, accounting for 22.6 percent of the population. This is higher than the city average, as reported by Guo Lulu, the deputy director of the Jiulongpo civil affairs bureau. The emergence of the mobile bath van has been a significant development in addressing this issue.
The mobile bath van is a ‘timely rain’ for many families, providing comfort and convenience to the elderly who face difficulties in accessing proper bathing facilities. It is an innovative solution that has significantly improved the lives of elderly people in Chongqing. With the development of more elder care programs and services, China can ensure that its aging population has access to basic care, improving their quality of life and ensuring their dignity and well-being.
Bathing is one of the most essential elder care services required for many senior citizens, as evidenced by a preliminary investigation. To address this issue, a free elderly bathing demonstration center was established in Chongqing’s Jiulongpo district, in collaboration with Chongqing Charity Federation, the Chongqing Pension Service Association, and Chongqing Sunshine Eldercare Service, which consists of mobile bath vans and fixed bathing service centers. The first elder care service center was established in the district’s Bailin community in April 2019, where the center offered in-home bathing services.
Long Surong, a 44-year-old employee at Chongqing Sunshine, stated that bathing service typically involves two to three employees. Before the bath, health assessments are conducted on senior bathers, including measuring their blood pressure, and the tub is disinfected. The water temperature is adjusted, and disposable bathtub bags are put in place. Staff then help seniors remove their clothes, get into the tub, and wash their hair and bodies. Following the bath, staff trim the seniors’ nails, shave their facial hair, and help them dress.
Long Surong acknowledges that the role of an elderly bathing service worker is not an easy task, but it is essential to care for the elderly as they would for their loved ones. She adds that the service provided brings significant relief to many families in Chongqing, who are dealing with elderly members who have mobility issues or live alone. By offering this crucial service to elderly people, the community promotes dignity, comfort, and security among the aging population.
Chongqing Sunshine has made significant strides in providing free mobile bathing services for elderly people across Chongqing. The organization has deployed 10 mobile bath vans to over 200 communities, villages, and institutions in the city’s 27 districts, including nursing homes, elder care centers, and welfare homes. Over 200 workers from the company have provided public welfare bathing services to more than 41,000 elderly people living alone or with disabilities.
The increasing aging population in China has put a strain on society, but it has also created opportunities for the growth of the “silver economy,” of which mobile bathing services are a part. Chongqing Sunshine’s services have been so successful that other parts of China, such as Nanjing and Shenzhen, have taken note of the trend.
To meet the growing demand for elder care services, the Chinese government has released a plan for the expansion of the country’s elder care services system during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). The plan aims to support businesses that contribute to the expansion of elder care services, including community and at-home bathing services, as well as mobile bath vans.
Chongqing Sunshine’s success is owed to the hard work and dedication of its workers, such as Long Surong, a 44-year-old bathing service worker, who says that they should treat others’ elderly relatives as their own. Bathing services are usually carried out by two to three workers, who conduct health evaluations and help the seniors get into the tub. They also provide additional services such as trimming nails, shaving facial hair, and helping seniors dress after bathing.
The establishment of the first elderly bathing demonstration center in Jiulongpo and the creation of the city’s first elder care service center in the Bailin community demonstrate the commitment of the Chongqing Charity Federation, the Chongqing Pension Service Association, and Chongqing Sunshine Eldercare Service to the provision of elder care services. The success of mobile bathing services in Chongqing offers hope that other regions in China can emulate the city’s approach to address the challenges of an aging population.