China and U.S Nursing Home Comparison

Elder Care in China

China is the most populated country on the planet with a population that is approaching 1.4 billion people. The population pyramid for China shows a bulge in the middle age groups, which is cause for concern. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be 300 million Chinese who are over 60 years old. Fast-forward 25 more years to 2050 and the estimate approaches 480 million, or a third of the current population of China. However, there are very few nursing homes in China. In fact, there are only currently enough nursing home beds in China to accommodate just over 2% of the aged population.

In the past, Chinese culture traditionally provided that aging parents live with their adult children. However, due to modernization and urbanization, there has been a shift on this issue, and many young Chinese have placed, or hope to place, their loved ones into nursing homes and long-term care facilities. However, obtaining a spot in a nursing home has become incredibly competitive. The Telegraph recently reported on the nursing home situation available in the country’s capital, Beijing, claiming that there are less than 400 facilities available for the city’s estimated 450,000 elderly individuals. Approximately 215 are public facilities, while 186 are run by private entities. The top social welfare home in Beijing has a waiting list of more than 10,000 applicants, and only approximately 1,100 beds in the facility, with only about 12 spots opening up annually.

Beijing’s Municipal Civic Affairs Bureau has taken steps to create 120,000 more beds in its facilities by 2015, but this seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the on-coming aging population. Similarly, Shanghai has seen an uptick in the number of people seeking placement in a nursing home. With demand on the rise, there are many investment opportunities on the horizon for developing nursing home care facilities in China.

Nursing Homes in the United States

Here in the United States the typical nursing home resident can expect reasonably good treatment and care while in a home. Nursing homes must be certified by state agencies, and nursing homes that participate in either the Medicare or Medicaid program must be certified at the federal level. Each year during recertification, an evaluation is conducted which may or may not result in health deficiency citations. A citation is issued if the nursing home fails to meet certain minimum standards or adhere to guidelines in terms of the care provided, environment, and living conditions of the nursing home. Citations are graded A-L with increasing severity, and an explanation of these grades can be found here.

For instance, in 2011, 9.2% of nursing homes that participated in either the Medicare or Medicaid program were reported as having no health deficiency citations by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). However, that same year, 56% of all the cited health deficiencies were classified as “D” level severity, meaning that while there is no immediate harm, there are isolated instances, situations, or incidents indicative of the potential for harm to occur to nursing home residents. Also in 2011, more than 83% of all deficiencies were graded as either a “D” or an “E,” with an “E” grade meaning that while there is no actual harm just yet, there was evidence of a pattern of potential harms or hazards.

If for any reason you are concerned about the care your loved one is receiving while in an Illinois nursing home, please do not hesitate to contact the The Rooth Law Firm online or by phone at (847) 869-9100.

Photo Credit: Renato Ganoza via Compfight cc


The World Factbook: China, Central Intelligence Agency

Malcolm Moore, China’s Ageing Population: 100-year Waiting List for Beijing Nursing Home, The Telegraph, January 16, 2013

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Nursing Home Data Compendium 2012 Edition