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Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) (Commencement) Notice 2011 and Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Regulation to be gazetted

     The Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) (Commencement) Notice 2011 and the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Regulation, which aim to bring the licensing scheme for residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs) under the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance into operation, will be gazetted this Thursday (June 30).

     A spokesman for the Labour and Welfare Bureau said, "The Ordinance was enacted on June 24, 2011, providing for the control of RCHDs through a licensing scheme administered by the Director of Social Welfare (DSW). To bring the licensing scheme into operation, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare has made the Commencement Notice to appoint November 18, 2011, as the commencement date of the Ordinance (except Part 2 on sanction), as well as the Regulation that stipulates the statutory requirements for the operation, management and supervision of RCHDs."

     The Regulation, if passed by the Legislative Council, will come into operation on the same day as that of the Ordinance's commencement. In tandem, DSW will issue a Code of Practice (CoP) that will elaborate on the details of the service standards required under the licensing scheme, on the basis of the licensing requirements stipulated in the Regulation.

     The spokesman said, "During the Bills Committee's scrutiny of the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Bill, the Bills Committee also conducted preliminary examination of the licensing requirements and standards stipulated in the draft Regulation and the draft revised CoP. Deputations had also put forward their views at the Bills Committee meeting. The Government is fully aware of the concerns raised by the Legislative Council Members, the rehabilitation sector and the public, and will introduce suitable complementary measures in tandem with the implementation of the licensing scheme."

     To encourage private RCHDs to upgrade their service standards and help the market develop more service options for persons with disabilities, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) introduced the four-year pilot Bought Place Scheme for private RCHDs in October 2010. The Scheme targets the purchase of 300 places in two phases. In addition, SWD will implement a Financial Assistance Scheme upon commencement of the Ordinance to provide subsidies for private RCHDs to carry out improvement works in compliance with the licensing requirements in building and fire safety.  

     Furthermore, to allow time for individual RCHDs to put in place suitable arrangements for application for a new licence or certificate of exemption (CoE) and for SWD to process all applications, there will be a grace period of 18 months starting from the commencement of the Ordinance. During the grace period, no sanction will be imposed on the operation of an RCHD without a licence or CoE. The Secretary for Labour and Welfare will issue another notice to the effect that Part 2 of the Ordinance, which creates an offence for operation without a licence or CoE, will come into operation upon the expiry of the 18-month grace period.

     The Commencement Notice and the Regulation will be tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting on July 6.

Ends/Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:18


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