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China looks to Australian care models to cope with ageing population

With China’s aged population expected to reach 248 million by 2020, Chinese companies are reaching out to Australian aged care providers to help them prepare.

Sungin Chairman Alex Gong and Managing Director of Sapphire Holdings Group Ernest Medina sign joint venture agreement in front of representatives from both companies (Source: Sapphire Holdings Group)
Sungin Chairman Alex Gong and Managing Director of Sapphire Holdings Group Ernest Medina sign joint venture agreement in front of representatives from both companies (Source: Sapphire Holdings Group)

Victorian aged care operator Sapphire Holdings Group has signed a joint venture agreement with Sungin, a subsidiary company of investment company Fosun Group, to develop a high-end aged care centre in Beijing.

The joint venture agreement, which was signed at the Shanghai Bund Financial Centre earlier this month, will see both companies working together to develop a residential aged care facility, Fragrant Hill, based on Sapphire Care’s quality standards, policies and procedures.  

Sapphire Holdings Group General Manager of Client Services Jane Forsyth says Sungin’s strategy is to build an international health care system through partnering with international health providers, and that their research revealed Australia to be world renowned for the quality of its aged care services.

“Sapphire will manage the operations of the facility, implementing their China Model of Care and extensive and innovative care systems customised for the suitability of this market,” Ms Forsyth says.

“The local management group will be supported with expertise and knowledge from Melbourne management team, with Cultural Intelligence being foremost.

Sungin will provide the local cultural knowledge, construction and property expertise, established relationships with government and local authorities, experience from Senior Living Communities and having worked in other international companies across a range of business."

Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Fosun Group, Chief Executive Officer of Fosun Property and Chairman of Sungin Alex Gong says the goal is to build up a full continuum of health care products, including community based care services, retirement and assisted living services and rehabilitative services.

“This partnership with Sapphire is of great importance to us as we move Sungin’s Big Health total ecosystem strategy forward,” says Mr Gong.

Ms Forsyth says quality aged care facilities and care providers are currently in short supply in China, leading the Chinese government to embark on an ambitious program to transform the country’s health and aged care industry.

“It is accelerating reform across the industry, including integrating healthcare and aged care services, introducing policies to attract private capital from domestic and overseas investors, and encouraging the adoption of smart healthcare,” Ms Forsyth says.

“There is a strong focus on developing the aged care sector, with the Government aiming to provide 35 to 40 care beds per thousand elderly citizens, and a workforce of 10 million aged care workers, by 2020.”

According to Ms Forsyth, the focus of the Fragrant Hill residential aged care facility will be to provide a “home-like environment” that will support residents’ capabilities and improve their health status.

“Current aged care delivery in China is based on a medical model with living environments that reflect hospital wards of long straight corridors and minimal communal areas such as dining, lounge and activity rooms,” she says. 

“Dementia care is under diagnosed and is a hidden disease in China, with families having a sense of fear, shame and guilt as their loved one’s exhibit signs of cognitive changes, while aged care staff have limited education in understanding and caring for people living with Dementia.

“We will provide expertise and staff training aimed to improve and enhance the wellbeing and quality of people living with dementia through a person-centered approach and to ensure a sense of family, the extended resident’s family will be encouraged to participate in care, activities and entertainment.”

The Fragrant Hill project will be Sungin’s first high end care facility located in Beijing and will include 4 floors, 92 beds and communal living spaces on a 8,600 square meter site. 


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