Chinese schools eager to learn from Finnish elderly care education

International cooperation is crucial to overcome problems with enough educationed personlle in the field of eldlerly care. Photo: truthseeker08 / Pixabay

Finnish expertise in areas such as teachers’ training and SMART technology are of huge interest for educational institutions and elderly care service providers in China. 

The newly-founded Sino-Finn Elderly Service Alliance could become a perfect arena for the exchange of experiences and best practices. That is at least the hope from some of the key personnel from Jiangsu Vocational Institute of Commerce (JVIC) in Nanjing, China.  

“The ultimate goal of the alliance is to unite all the Chinese universities or colleges that are interested in Finnish elderly service technology and education,” says Mr Diao Xiangzheng, head of the International Office at JVIC explains. 

The Finnish education export firm Sumino and JVIC were, with the strong support of the Jiangsu Provincial Education Department, initiators of the alliance. 

The cooperation platform has already gathered more than 70 Chinese educational institutions and more than ten businesses in the field of elderly care in China. The Finnish members are Sumino, Tampere Vocational College and Turku University of Applied Sciences

Diao looks forward to learning more about the strengths of Finland and discussing exchanges with Finnish companies and schools.  

The purpose of the Alliance’s annual forum is to “share the experiences and achievements from throughout the year to give all members a model or an example for future cooperation,” he adds.  

”We wish that in the future, all teachers, students and businesses from the two countries can benefit from this alliance and grow together.” 

Cooperation as the answer to common challenges 
Who will take care of our elderly? That is a pressing question in both Finland and China, where the share of senior citizens grows faster than the number of people educated to help and take care of them.  

Ms Yang Aiping, Dean of the Health Care School at JVIC, says that elderly care programmes have not generally been popular in China. The profession lacks social recognition, she explains.  

“However, since 2019, with the recovery of the economy and development of the ageing population, more and more people realise the importance of such programmes, so now the situation is better.”  

The dean points to three things that are needed in China, in order raise the status of caretakers: 

  1. A clear career path for graduates, so they can set goals for the future.  
  1. Increase of salaries in the industry. 
  1. Development and use of SMART technology to ease the human workload.  
On May 10, 2021, the Sino-Finn Elderly Service Alliance was founded. The forum will serve as a platform for cooperation between Finland and China. Photo: Sara Lilja Steensig / Finn-Sino Education Club

SMART education and technology from Finland 
Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology – or in short SMART – has a lot to offer in the field of elderly services.  

Inventions such as robot pets, “intelligent” medicine dispensers and VR glasses can heighten the quality of life of seniors and lessen the burden on caregivers.  

JVIC is currently applying to offer a SMART elderly care programme. If the application is accepted, the institute will become the first Chinese college with such a programme.  

This is a field with a lot of Finnish expertise that China would like to learn from.  

“From the business perspective, Chinese companies would like to get advanced technology devices and equipment from Finland. Not only by trading, but also by being involved already at the research and development phase,” Diao Xiangzheng explains. 

Structure of vocational education and training in China 
To work in the elderly care field, Chinese students can either take a vocational education or a bachelor degree at an institution similar to a university of applied science in Finland.  

Yang Aiping explains that there are 1436 vocational schools in China. A good 300 of them offer an elderly nursing degree.  

“At the bachelor degree level, there are only 13 universities with an elderly service programme, and only two of them are currently under operation, with a total annual number of students of 60,” Yang says.  

Learn from Finnish teachers’ training and curricula 
Experiences from Finnish teachers’ training could prove valuable to Chinese educational institutions.  

International cooperation is especially important within elderly service education, stresses Mr Wang Gang, Vice Dean of the Health Care School at JVIC. 

The first elderly service programme at a Chinese university was established in 1999.  

“The short history means that international cooperation in this field is in its beginning phase in China,” Wang notes.  

The Jiangsu Institute has for the time being cooperation agreements with schools in Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan. Exchanges with the rest of the world are warmly welcomed, says Wang.  

He hopes that the SMART nursing programme could cooperate with Finnish counterparts and that a certification from Finland could help the coming programme gain popularity and grow.  

The dean of the nursing school, Yang, is interested in cooperation with Finnish schools and companies running elderly homes 

”We are going to develop a typical scenario in the daily nursing environment and try to develop some kind of a standard. From a business perspective, it’s a service standard. From the school perspective it’s a teaching standard,” she says to Finn-Sino Education Club.  

As part of the exchange, Yang mentions that she would also be happy to explore the many possibilities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with her Finnish counterparts.