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Rental scheme brings relief in more ways than one

Updated: 2020-11-13 08:10:23

( China Daily )

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The community rental display area that allows people to rent rehabilitation assistive devices makes its debut at the 2020 Shanghai International Exhibition of Senior Care, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Healthcare at the Shanghai New International Expo Center on Oct 28.[Photo by He Qi/China Daily]

Rehabilitation assistive devices for the elderly and disabled often come with hefty price tags. Thankfully, Shanghai residents who cannot afford to spare the cash have been presented with another option since last year-rental.

In June 2019, the city was designated as a national pilot area for the community rental of rehabilitation equipment, with some 70 neighborhoods in 16 districts across the city listed as the first batch of pilot units.

The move to make these assistive devices available for rental has been well received by users, as evidenced by the reception to the recent 2020 Shanghai International Exhibition of Senior Care, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Healthcare that was held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

The exhibition, which took place from Oct 28 to 30, drew large crowds of the elderly, among whom was 68-year-old Li Donghai, who was in search of an auxiliary brace for his knee.

"I used to buy assistive equipment to relieve joint pain, but the cheap one I had was hardly effective. On the other hand, I don't think the more expensive ones in the market are worth the money. Being able to rent a device instead is much more convenient," says Li, who suffers from arthritis.

One of the products that Li was viewing was Unloader One, a brace designed by US brand Ossur. According to Liu Fujun, the product manager of Ossur, the retail price of Unloader One is about 13,000 yuan ($1,970). The company is now leasing these units for 400 yuan per month.

"Compared with the traditional brace, which usually costs between 2,000 and 4,000 yuan, the price of Unloader One is very high, but it is much more effective. Considering the spending power of the elderly, leasing may be a better option for them," says Liu.

"Leasing also provides a chance for the elderly to try the product for some time and decide if they should buy it."

Liu adds that Ossur has made its assistive devices available for rent since the start of November. To date, nearly 200 devices have already been rented.

As the city with the fastest-aging population in China, Shanghai has a high demand for rehabilitation equipment. To address this issue, the municipal government had in 2017 planned to accelerate the development of the rehabilitation assistive devices industry and promote the development of the rental market of such devices.

Following the introduction of 70 rental sites in the city in 2019, another 80 rental sites have been added this year. According to the city's civil affairs bureau, the rental service network of rehabilitation equipment will cover the entire city by 2021.

During the pilot period, those who qualify for the rental scheme-those aged 60 and above, people with some disabilities and low-income individuals-can apply for a maximum subsidy of 50 percent of the rental price. The maximum subsidy per person cannot exceed 3,000 yuan per year.

"Most people still don't know about the rental scheme. I think only three out of 10 people attending the exhibition or a related event know about it," says Zhu Yanjing, manager of Yinchuang Life, a global platform that specializes in the innovation and exchange of products suited for the elderly.

"Since the rental prices are relatively attractive and users can also enjoy government subsidies, the cost of leasing is ultimately much lower than purchasing."

To date, more than 300 people have rented assistive devices through Yinchuang Life, which is cooperating with more than 10 communities in the city and five pension institutions to provide the rental service.

"In the future, our main goal will be to promote the leasing service, because our goal is to better the lives of the elderly. We will have more assistive equipment available for rental soon," says Zhu.

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