China care home rewards visits to elderly parents

Elderly people playing dominoes in a Chinese nursing home Image copyright GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Filial piety is a major aspect of Confucian tradition, but some elderly people see little of their children

A nursing home in eastern China is giving vouchers to people who visit their elderly parents on a regular basis.

The facility in the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, says consistent family visits will improve residents' quality of life, the Yangtze Evening Post reports. The biggest reward is worth 200 yuan ($29; £23) and is for those who show up 30 times over the course of two months. Lesser amounts are on offer for 10 or 20 visits during the same period.

The care home says the number of people visiting regularly has soared since it introduced the initiative. It might end up as rather a costly endeavour, though - the first set of "filial piety awards" saw vouchers worth more than 30,000 yuan ($4,400; £3,400) handed out.

One resident called Mr Wu, who's in his 90s, says the "added incentive" has made a big difference to him. "My son has come to see me a lot more than before - it seems as though this 'award' has played a role," he tells the paper.

The incentive follows a recent push by the authorities to encourage filial piety. In 2013, a law was enacted which said grown-up children must visit their parents or potentially face punishment, although it didn't spell out how it would be enforced.

Views are mixed on microblogging site Weibo. Some people feel that the positive end result is all that matters. "No matter what the reason, at the end of the day the nursing home has done a good thing," remarks one user, while another says it will serve as a "wake-up call to others". But there's also anger that it takes money to make people visit their parents more often, with one person writing: "Ridiculous, even the great motherland's filial piety requires a financial incentive."

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