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LCQ20: Rehabilitation Services for Persons with Disabilities
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@@Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by the Hon Mr LAU Wong-fat on Rehabilitation Services for Persons with Disabilities in the Legislative Council today (February 27):

Question:

@@According to the paper provided by the Labour and Welfare Bureau for the meeting of the Finance Committee of this Council on February 1 this year, while the Government has planned to use allocations from the Lotteries Fund to establish two Integrated Rehabilitation Services Centres to provide day and residential care services for mentally and physically handicapped people ("MPHP"), there is still a shortfall of about 2,600 places for day care services and about 3,500 places for residential care services. The services provided by the Government are therefore still far from adequate in meeting the demands of MPHP.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a)@it has estimated the respective demands of MPHP for residential and day care services in the next five years; if so, whether the Government will provide them with adequate services; if it will, of the details in respect of those two types of services; if it will not, the reasons for that; and

(b)@it has any plan to raise, through the 18 District Councils, public concern about the service needs of MPHP; if so, of the details?

Reply:

Madam President,

(a)@The Social Welfare Department (SWD) is responsible for the coordination of residential care services for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the allocation of such services to PWDs on the central waiting list.  The waiting time could reflect the demand of PWDs for residential care services.  As at December 2007, there were 5,787 PWDs on the waiting list for various kinds of subsidised residential care services, and the average waiting time ranged from five months to seven years.

@@At present, the Government provides a total of 10,606 subsidised residential care places for PWDs in need.  In 2007/08, the expenditure incurred will be more than $1.07 billion.  From 2003 to 2007, a total of 1,387 additional residential care places were provided.  In 2007/08, the Government has earmarked $52 million for providing 490 new places.  We will continue to seek resources to ensure a steady annual increase in subsidised residential care places.

@@On the provision of new subsidised residential care places, we are unable to set a definite target and a timetable for the next few years due to a number of uncertainties, including the allocation of resources and availability of suitable sites.

@@It should be noted that the majority of PWDs on the waiting list for subsidised residential care places are receiving various day training, vocational rehabilitation and community support services provided by the SWD.  These include services at day activity centres and sheltered workshops, services in supported employment, day care for severely disabled persons, home-based training and support etc.  Through the provision of the required rehabilitation services in response to individual needs, PWDs are given the necessary support and assistance which enables them to continue to live in the community while the stress on their families or carers is relieved.

@@Over the past few years, the Government has made active efforts in developing day care and community support services with a view to providing the PWDs with the necessary training and support to facilitate their continuous living at home and full integration into the community.

@@At present, the Government provides a total of 15 963 day training and vocational rehabilitation places for PWDs in need.  The expenditure incurred will be over $680 million in 2007/08.  In the past five years, a total of 2 446 additional day training/vocational rehabilitation places were provided.  In 2007/08, we have obtained funding for providing 424 additional day training and vocational rehabilitation places.  As at December 2007, there were 3 135 PWDs waiting for day services and the waiting time ranged from three months to two years.  We will continue to seek resources to provide additional day service places to meet the demand.

@@Apart from providing additional service places, we have also introduced a new service mode to meet the needs of PWDs.  In 2006/07, SWD set up two district-based community rehabilitation day centres to provide short-term transitional rehabilitation services for patients with mental, neurological or physical impairment upon their discharge from hospitals.  These centres also provide supporting services, including training for carers of PWDs and their family members.  Three new centres will commence service in 2007/08.

@@We will take forward the further development of, and planning for, diversified community support services for PWDs, and review the integration and coordination between mainstream welfare services (e.g. integrated home care services) and community support services for PWDs to ensure that the services meet the needs of PWDs. We will also mount publicity and public education initiatives to promote various community support services to members of the local communities, carers of PWDs, parents and professionals (such as social workers and teachers) so that they would make the best use of these services.  In the long run, we aim to give holistic care to PWDs in order to cater to their needs in different development stages.

(b)@The Government fully recognises the need to work with the 18 District Councils (DCs) to consolidate local efforts to promote comprehensive rehabilitation services and strengthen public education, so as to enhance public awareness and understanding of the rights and needs of PWDs and their contribution to the community.  This is instrumental in facilitating PWDs to enjoy equal opportunities and participate in the community, thereby achieving the policy objective of full integration of PWDs into the community.

@@On the implementation of district-based public education activities on rehabilitation services, the Labour and Welfare Bureau makes an annual funding contribution of about $600,000 to the 18 DCs for organising activities in support of the International Day of Disabled Persons in order to drive home the message of "a society for all".  The DCs have all along played an active role in encouraging local residents to accept PWDs and understand their service needs.

@@The District Welfare Co-ordination Mechanism (DWCM) and service coordination mechanism established under the 11 SWD District Social Welfare Offices also help enhance inter-departmental and cross-sectoral involvement in the assessment of district welfare needs and formulation of welfare plans in the district.  The District Coordinating Committees on Rehabilitation seek to enhance collaboration between rehabilitation service units and other service sectors in promoting public awareness of and enlisting public support for rehabilitation services.  Both the DWCMs and the service coordination mechanism involve participation of DC members. 

@@In December 2006, the HKSAR Government launched the International Festival of Inclusive Arts.  Before the Festival, the Government visited the 18 DCs to promote the Festival and brief DC Members on the Government's rehabilitation policy and the various service needs of PWDs.  With the staunch support of the 18 DCs, the Festival was a great success.

@@The Government has recently completed the review of the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan (HKRPP), which sets out the strategic directions for the future development of rehabilitation services.  In the next few months, we, together with members of the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee, will visit the 18 DCs again to brief DC Members on the HKRPP's recommendations in cross-sectoral collaboration, promotion of barrier-free environment, and diversified services for PWDs including pre-school services, employment services, community support and public education, etc.  We firmly believe that, through their participation and support, the 18 DCs will continue to make invaluable contribution to the promotion of full integration of PWDs into the community and the building of a harmonious society.


Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:01

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