Beijing accelerates building of palliative care service system

Updated: Apr 10, 2023 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- After being diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2020, Zhang Hua, 62, was sent to the Puhuangyu community health center in Beijing's Fengtai District for better treatment.

At the end of last year, his condition worsened after an accidental fall and he was totally unable to take care of himself.

Over the past three years, Zhang's two daughters have been responsible for looking after him, and eventually, they shifted him to the community health center upon learning that the center provides hospice care services.

"At present, the basic premise of all treatments is to make my dad feel more comfortable both physically and psychologically, and we are paying more attention to the quality of his life," said one of Zhang's daughters.

Wang Minghui, director of the hospice care center, conducted a detailed examination of Zhang, prepared treatment plans, and assigned care workers and volunteers to look after him every day.

The hospice care center under the Puhuangyu community health service center is the first of its kind in Beijing, having been transformed from a community health center. It is equipped with 50 beds, a team of six doctors, 20 nurses, and over 30 volunteers who provide support to patients and their families.

Hospice care is not synonymous with giving up on treatment. Rather, it is an approach that seeks to enhance the quality of life for patients facing life-limiting illnesses, allowing them to live with greater dignity, according to Liu Hong, director of Puhuangyu community health service center.

Hospice care is an important part of the health service system for the aged. In recent years, Beijing has accelerated the building of the hospice care service system.

By the end of 2022, 95 medical institutions in the city had registered hospice care departments, 28 medical institutions had set up hospice care beds, and a total of 650 hospice care service beds were available across hospitals in Beijing. The quality of service supply has shown significant improvement compared to that in 2020.

Wang Xiao'e, an official of the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, said that in order to cater to the diversified needs of the elderly, Beijing has made significant improvements in integrating medical resources.

The city has expanded the number of hospice care institutions and beds gradually, guided general hospitals, traditional Chinese medicine hospitals, and specialized hospitals in setting up hospice care departments, he said.

Support has also been offered for setting up hospice care beds in oncology, pain management, geriatrics, and other related departments, Wang said, adding that the transformation of qualified secondary and lower-level hospitals and community health service centers into hospice care centers is also being promoted.

In order to speed up the building of the hospice care system, Beijing issued a plan in 2022, which clearly stated that "by 2025, at least one hospice care center will be set up in each district, and there will be no less than 1,800 beds providing hospice care services in the whole city. Community health service institutions can generally provide community and home hospice care services, and the needs of hospice care services for the elderly will be generally met."

Wang noted that Beijing intends to leverage its medical resources and gradually enhance its supporting policies for hospice care.

Efforts will also be made to expedite the training of talent and service quality will be continued to improve in order to ensure that the last journey of life is more dignified, she said.

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