Nursing home Kang Jian Shouchang Fang in Shanghai has gone largely to reassure neighbors who want it never to be built first – laying baking lessons, lectures on a healthy stay and monthly meetings with neighbors. Other such houses offer children yoga and playgrounds.
Shanghai, like many Chinese cities, is facing a rapidly aging population and few facilities to care for the elderly. However, in recent years it has also become the scene of a wave of ‘Nimba’ protests (not in my garden) pushing back against the government’s initiative to build 200 new community care homes by 2020.
Locals’ objections to nursing homes include concerns about cleanliness, falling property prices and their impact on neighboring Feng Shui – China’s theory of spatial arrangement and energy flow.
Zhu Yuancong, president of the community care home Kang Jian Shouchang Fang, said: “The inhabitants have the stereotype that retirement homes are not clean because there are elderly people who are ill. Another problem is that death and illness in retirement homes can cause bad luck from a feng shui perspective. “
According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, by 2025 the population over 60 will be 290 million in the country by 2025. However, in a country in which children are traditionally cared for by children, the opposition of neighboring residents is not accustomed to the idea of retirement homes highlighting the difficulties faced by the authorities in addressing this issue.
Yang Fan, assistant professor of social policy at Shanghai University, Jiao Tong, who evaluated the construction of nursing homes between 2017 and 2018, found that residents oppose 37 of the 49 projects he visited.
In rare public demonstrations of the opposition, the people of Shanghai dealt with demonstrators to oppose the construction of nursing homes, to break the windows of completed homes for the elderly, and sometimes to physically block the construction. In some cases, the police had to be summoned to calm the crowds.
In 2015, Xinyi Yayuan residents accepted the agreed cessation of protests against nursing homes, but the company involved in the project sued after the project continued.
Wang Kuiming, a scientist at the Jiao Tong University of China’s Institute for Urban Administration, said the aversion is so strong that their presence is likely to affect property prices. Buyers searched elsewhere after learning that the nursing home is under construction.
This in turn causes other residents who fear the value of their homes to be against the building.
But in response to almost as unusual in China as people’s protests, companies have opened the door and conducted community dialogues aimed at key opinion makers in different communities to provide a platform for people to share their interests.
Zhu said, “It’s like the UN summit. We organized monthly meetings with representatives from various sides including residents, construction companies, community committee. “
Nursing Home Kang Jian Shouchang Fang expanded its services with lectures on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and workshops for neighboring residents. His model of responding to their concerns was copied by others. The nursing home in Putuo, another neighborhood in Shanghai, promotes a large yoga center. Others have set up cafes and children’s areas.
130 community homes have been built since September and public opinion seems to have shifted towards houses. Yang Hong, a 70-year-old woman living in Shanghai, said, “May our community have nursing homes.”