LCQ20: Residential care services for persons with disabilities

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Pan Pey-chyou and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):


     According to the existing standardised assessment mechanism for residential services for persons with disabilities (PWDs), PWDs who wish to apply for subsidised residential care services for PWDs provided by the Government have to undergo assessment by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) in order to register on the waiting list for allocation of residential care places via SWD's Central Referral System for Rehabilitation Services (CRSRehab). However, it is noted that the supply of subsidised places has long been inadequate, rendering most PWDs having to wait for places for over eight to 12 years, while some relatively younger PWDs have to temporarily reside in elderly homes as a result, and they and their carers are thus physically and mentally exhausted. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the existing numbers of places provided by subsidised residential care homes for PWDs (RCHDs), self-financing RCHDs run by non-government organisations (NGOs) and private RCHDs, as well as their respective occupancy rates;

(b) of the respective numbers of people on the waiting list at present, the average waiting time as well as the longest waiting time for various types of residential care places for PWDs;

(c) of the additional subsidised places provided by the Government for each type of home care services for PWDs in each of the past 10 years;

(d) given that the Government has launched a four-year pilot Bought Place Scheme (BPS) for private RCHDs in 2010-2011 to purchase a total of around 300 places by two phases, whether the authorities have assessed if the number of places increased as a result of the scheme is adequate for easing the prolonged waiting time; if so, how far the waiting time can actually be shortened; if not, of the reasons for not purchasing more places;

(e) of the reasons for not including the self-financing RCHDs run by NGOs in the BPS; whether the authorities will consider extending the BPS to cover this type of RCHDs; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(f) for those who are already on the CRSRehab waiting list for subsidised places but not qualified for the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, what suitable services the authorities are offering at present to support these PWDs and their carers; whether the authorities will consider offering financial assistance to PWDs and their carers, so that they can be admitted to private RCHDs or self-financing RCHDs run by NGOs first, and their carers can afford to use the appropriate equipment or services which can relieve their burden; if not, of the reasons for that?



     In accordance with the strategic directions of the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan, the Government has been adopting a three-pronged approach to encourage participation from different sectors in providing diversified residential care services for persons with disabilities, viz. - (1) regulating RCHDs, so as to ensure the service quality on one hand and help the market develop residential care homes of different types and operational modes on the other; (2) supporting NGOs to develop self-financing homes; and (3) continuing to steadily increase the number of subsidised residential care home places. In line with these strategic directions, the Government will introduce a licensing scheme for RCHDs. In tandem, the Government has launched the pilot BPS for private RCHDs with a view to encouraging private operators of RCHDs to upgrade their service standard, shortening the waiting time for services by increasing the overall supply of subsidised residential care places, and helping the market develop more service options. Furthermore, the Government has been continuously increasing the provision of subsidised residential places in recent years. In 2010-11 and 2011-12, the Government will provide 1 046 additional residential care places. Besides, the Government has already earmarked 10 sites in future development projects for the construction of new RCHDs. We estimate that there will be an additional provision of around 1 006 residential care places in the next five years (2012-13 to 2016-17), subject to the progress of project planning and preparatory work. The Government will continue to step up efforts in identifying new resources and suitable premises for setting up new RCHDs in order to steadily increase the number of subsidised residential places for persons with disabilities. Our reply to the questions raised by Dr Hon Pan Pey-chyou is set out below:

(a) As at March 31, 2011, the respective number of homes and places regarding subvented RCHDs, self-financing RCHDs operated by NGOs and private RCHDs are tabulated below:

Type of RCHDs  Number of  Number of  Enrolment
               homes      places     Rate
Subvented home 241        11 682     95% Note

Self-financing  21           376     90%

Private home    70         3 688     62%

Note: Three new rehabilitation services centres commenced service in the third and fourth quarters of 2010-11 respectively, and are at present taking in new cases by phases. The enrolment rate will go up upon the full operation of these centres.

(b) The number of persons on the waiting list and the average waiting time for various types of RCHDs as at March 31, 2011 are set out at Annex 1. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) has not kept statistics on the longest waiting time.

(c) The number of subvented places for each type of RCHDs and the rate of increase over the past 10 years are set out at Annex 2.

(d) and (e) In October 2010, SWD invited private RCHDs to join the pilot BPS. Under the pilot BPS, SWD will purchase 300 places in two phases.  Upon the completion of the vetting exercise, SWD has purchased 60 places from two private RCHDs so far. Subject to the selected operators meeting the requirements of the pilot BPS, we expect to purchase 100 residential care places in 2011-12.

     The pilot BPS will increase the supply of subsidised places and help improve the waitlisting situation. Given that the two BPS homes mentioned above are in the process of taking in new cases and arranging admission of residents, and that the number of persons on the waiting list changes over time, we cannot assess the actual impact on the average waiting time brought about by the scheme at this juncture.

     If more high-quality places could be available in the private market in future, we will actively consider increasing the number of place to be purchased. SWD will conduct mid-term reviews on the pilot BPS and refine the operational details (including the number of places to be purchased and whether to extend the pilot BPS to cover self-financing homes) where appropriate. SWD will also conduct a review on the long-term feasibility of the pilot BPS before its expiry in 2014.

(f) At present, a majority of persons with disabilities waitlisting for subsidised RCHDs and their family members/carers are receiving various types of support service provided or subvented by SWD. These services aim at helping persons with disabilities to continue to live in the community while relieving the burden and the stress of their family members/carers.

     SWD set up 16 district-based District Support Centres for Persons with Disabilities (DSCs) across the territory in January 2009 to provide one-stop support services for persons with disabilities and their family members and carers, so that they can receive the required services at the same centre within the district. DSCs also provide support and training services for carers of persons with disabilities with a view to relieving their burden and enhancing their caring capacity, thereby enabling their relatives with disabilities to continue to live in the community and stay with their family or friends.

     We are mindful of the special needs of persons with severe physical and intellectual disabilities and their family members/carers in community support services while waiting for subsidised residential care services. In this regard, SWD has introduced a 3-year pilot scheme since March 2011 in Kwun Tong and Tuen Mun District to provide home-based care services for persons with severe physical and intellectual disabilities who are waitlisting for subsidised residential care services. We expect that a total of about 540 persons with severe disabilities can be served upon full implementation of the scheme.  The scheme will help persons with severe disabilities meet their needs for personal care, nursing care and training, thereby relieving the stress of their family members/carers and improving their quality of life.

     Apart from the above-mentioned services, SWD also provides diversified community support services with a view to strengthening the independent living abilities of persons with disabilities, enabling them to continue to live at home and fully integrate into the community, thereby alleviating the stress of their family members and carers. These community support services, which aim to provide home care and rehabilitation training services to persons with disabilities living in the community, include Transitional Care and Support Centre for Tetraplegic Patients, Specialised Home-based Training and Support Service, Day Care Service for Persons with Severe Disabilities, Residential Respite Service, etc.

     For persons with disabilities who have financial difficulties but  are not recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA), they can apply for immediate or short-term financial assistance from charitable funds for purchasing necessary rehabilitation and medical appliances, such as Yan Chai Tetraplegic Fund administered by the Yan Chai Hospital Board, Samaritan Fund administered by the Hospital Authority, Li Po Chun Charitable Trust Fund, Tang Shiu Kin and Ho Tim Charitable Fund, Brewin Trust Fund and Kwan Fong Trust Fund for the Needy administered by SWD. Persons in need can also approach medical social workers, social workers of integrated family service centres (IFSCs) or NGOs to apply for the relevant charitable funds. Social workers will assess the conditions of the applicants, including their financial conditions, having regard to the respective criteria and categories of charitable funds and provide them with the appropriate assistance.  Besides, non-CSSA recipients who cannot afford medical fees because of financial difficulties may apply for a fee waiver through the medical social services units of public hospitals and clinics, or IFSCs or Family and Child Protective Services Units under SWD.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:35