Elderly Commission promotes neighbourhood support to rural elders

The following is issued on behalf of the Elderly Commission:

    The Chairman of the Elderly Commission, Dr Leong Che-hung, and the Chairman of Wai Hung Charity Foundation, Mrs Kathryn Louey, today (July 21) visited some elders and volunteers in two villages in Yuen Long to see the implementation of the Pilot Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project in rural areas.   

    The pilot project was jointly launched by the Elderly Commission and the Labour and Welfare Bureau to encourage people, including elders, to become volunteers and build a neighbourhood support network. There are 19 district projects, two of which are being implemented in rural areas.

    One of the rural projects is jointly run by the Pok Oi Hospital Mrs Wong Tung Yuen District Elderly Community Centre and Caritas Yuen Long District Elderly Centre. The project covers six rural areas including San Tin, Kam Tin, Ping Shan, Ha Tsuen, Pat Heung and Shap Pat Heung. It is expected to reach out to no less than 3,000 elders in 50 villages. So far, the project has recruited more than 260 volunteers and about 70% of them are elders.

    "The commission has actively promoted active ageing.  We encourage elders to take part in community activities and lead healthy lives so that they can continue to contribute to their family and society. The project provides opportunities for elders in the villages to embrace the lifestyle of active ageing," Dr Leong said.

    At a meal with them at an elderly volunteer's home in Siu Hum Tsuen, Dr Leong and Mrs Louey learned how the project helped several elders enhance mutual support. They then joined 20 other volunteers to give out vegetarian food, which was arranged by the Wai Hung Charity Foundation, to elders in Sheung Pak Nai Village. They hoped the elders would share the vegetarian food with their neighbours, to foster a closer relationship among them.

    "There are a considerable number of elderly residents in villages across Yuen Long District. With the help of schools, kai-fong associations and mutual aid committees, the project seeks to recruit volunteers of different ages to set up village support teams. This helps to promote cross-sectoral collaboration and intergenerational harmony," he said.

    The village support teams visit the elders regularly and organise activities such as health talks, feasts, celebration of traditional festivals, birthday gatherings and household cleaning, with a view to fostering a closer relationship between the elders and local residents. They also help raise elders' awareness of community resources and their rights to enable them to receive better care. The activities not only promote active lifestyle to the elders, but also enhance their interpersonal and communication skills. Besides, the teams help identify hidden elders and refer the cases to welfare organisations for follow-up if necessary.

    "Some villages are remote and it takes a long time to get there. But the volunteers are keen to serve people there. Their efforts to help build a support network in the community are commendable," Dr Leong said.

    He encouraged the volunteers to continue their efforts in helping others and maintaining a harmonious neighbourhood.

Ends/Monday, July 21, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:10