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Speech by SLW at 7th Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation and 2010 Graduate Student Conference on Rehabilitation Sciences (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at 7th Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation and 2010 Graduate Student Conference on Rehabilitation Sciences today (October 23):

Professor Chan (Professor Philip Chan, Deputy President, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University), Professor Jones (Professor Alice Jones, Acting Head, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University), distinguished speakers, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all, especially overseas and mainland delegates, to the 7th Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation and 2010 Graduate Student Conference on Rehabilitation Sciences.

     The Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation has a proud history of a decade in bringing advancement to rehabilitation sciences throughout the Pan-Pacific region. The past six biennial conferences were instrumental in enhancing greater community awareness of the importance of rehabilitation services and promoting fruitful exchanges of professional expertise in this field.

     The theme of this conference, "Mind, Brain and Body", aptly highlights the importance of achieving a deeper understanding of mind-body interactions in rehabilitation.  This approach also breaks new ground in encouraging holistic and cross-disciplinary collaboration for the advancement of knowledge and skills in order to transform the lives of patients and care-givers alike. I am sure that you will all have much to share and learn from each other on this.

     I understand that some of the prestigious speakers will offer us food for thought on how East can meet West in putting holistic care for patients into practice. Also there will be experts sharing how cross-disciplinary efforts can cater for the health and well-being of patients and persons with disabilities.

     Hong Kong's rehabilitation policy, as expounded in the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan of 2007, aims at both empowering persons with disabilities and their families to help them become valuable social capital, and facilitating their integration into the community.

     In this connection, it is important to note that the 2010 Policy Address delivered by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong last week contains three important policy initiatives in rehabilitation service.  This reflects the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government's determination to enhance psychosocial and physical care for our patients, persons with disabilities and elders.

Integrated Discharge Support Programme for Elderly
Patients (IDSP)

     Let me start with better medical-social interface for the betterment of frail elders.  We introduced the Integrated Discharge Support Programme for Elderly Patients (IDSP) on a trial basis for three years for three local districts, mainly Kwun Tong, Kwai Tsing and Tuen Mun, in 2008 to offer one-stop assistance for elders after hospital discharge.  These elderly patients are offered pre-discharge planning and training, as well as post-discharge rehabilitation programmes and intensive home support services, to facilitate their speedy recovery at home.  A total of 20,000 elders and 7,000 carers will benefit under this pilot project.  As the programme has been well received by users, carers, medical and social welfare professionals alike, the Government has decided to turn it into a permanent, territory-wide service, benefiting 33,000 elders per year.

Assistance to Autistic Children

     Our measures on cross-disciplinary collaboration for holistic care do not stop at elders.  Everyone deserves the best start in life.  We will enhance our assistance to autistic children to facilitate early identification, assessment and treatment to ensure that they receive appropriate care and support during their development. Healthcare-wise, the Hospital Authority will strengthen its professional team comprising child psychiatrists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, nurses, speech therapists, and occupational therapists. They will also provide parents and carers of autistic children with more information to enhance their understanding of autism and the treatment needs of these children. The Hospital Authority will also increase its service quota by 2000.  At present, the quota stands at 3,800.  So it is a very substantial increase.  For my part, the Social Welfare Department will also step up its service by increasing places for pre-school early intervention service and training.  Our medical social service will be strengthened to dovetail with the Hospital Authority's enhanced service.

The Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness

     People with mental health problems are another major patient group that would benefit from collaboration between the health and social care systems. As you are aware, most mental health patients can remain in the community with proper medical and social support.

     Our new district-based and one-stop service delivery mode of the Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness (ICCMW) came on stream this month across the whole territory. Our aim is to provide one-stop, accessible and integrated community mental health support services ranging from prevention to crisis management to discharged patients, persons with suspected mental health problems and their families living in the district. We will significantly strengthen the manpower of these wellness centres so that they can provide accessible and comprehensive service for more persons in need. We will also enhance our psychiatric assistance to people with mental health problems. We are also leaving no stone unturned to help service operators of the wellness centres to secure permanent accommodation.

     Successful rehabilitation should not be the sole responsibility of professionals and policy-makers.  The essence of holistic rehabilitation is social inclusion and this entails the support of all members of the community.  I call upon district leaders and residents to show more understanding to facilitate the setting up of these wellness centres in their neighbourhood.


     Cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, cross-departmental and multi-tasking approaches have become increasingly the norm in the provision of health and social services in the modern world.  The three new measures which I have just outlined and cited to integrate health and social care reflect how the rehabilitation scene has evolved to keep abreast of the changing needs of patients in the community.  To rise to the challenge, today's therapists need a mix of skills and up-to-date knowledge, apart from the respective core skills. In this context, I am sure that this important conference will inspire you to keep our rehabilitation research abreast of the changing needs of the community and service users.

     Taking into account all the territory-wide measures in rehabilitation and our fast ageing population, we expect a substantial increase in demand for healthcare practitioners, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the years ahead.  Career prospects for healthcare professionals in Hong Kong are therefore highly promising. The Government will increase the supply of healthcare personnel through a multi-pronged strategy, including encouraging tertiary institutions to increase student places for these disciplines and strengthening training programmes provided by the Hospital Authority.

     Before I close, I would like to pay tribute to the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians for jointly organising this important event.  I wish the conference every success and all of you rewarding exchanges in the discussion sessions. Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, October 23, 2010
Issued at HKT 11:00


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