LCQ14: Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (February 29):


     In 2010-2011, the authorities extended the services of Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness (ICCMW) to all the 18 districts across the territory and established 24 ICCMWs. Some frontline workers have relayed that even though the authorities have allocated additional resources to mental health services, such support is far from being adequate to meet the needs of the community, and in view of their huge workload and excessive work pressure, they hope that the authorities will provide additional resources for recruiting more professional grade staff to help enhance the services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the amount of funding allocated to each ICCMW last year, and their respective numbers of staff belonging to different professional grades (social workers, nurses and occupational therapists);

(b) of the respective numbers of members, various types of cases and small group activities of each ICCMW last year, together with the number of cases handled by each social worker;

(c) of the respective numbers of the various types of service targets (ie people recovering from mental illness aged 15 or above, people with suspected mental health problems, their families/carers and residents in the district) of ICCMWs at present, together with a breakdown by various districts delineated by the Social Welfare Department or the Hospital Authority; and the principles adopted by the authorities in determining the ratio of ICCMW manpower to their service targets; and

(d) whether it knows, among the existing ICCMWs, the number of those which need to rent premises in commercial buildings because permanent sites are not provided to them; whether the authorities will offer rent allowance to enable such service units to have sufficient space to deliver normal service; if so, of the details (including the maximum amount of allowance); if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government is mindful of the needs of persons with mental health problems and their family members/carers, and keeps under review the operation of and demand for community support services to ensure that the services would keep pace with the changing circumstances. In view of the growing demand of mental health services, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has already launched the district-based and one-stop service delivery mode of the Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness (ICCMW) across the territory, providing comprehensive and one-stop community support services ranging from prevention to risk management for discharged mental patients, persons with suspected mental health problems, their families/carers and residents living in the district. The Government has also continued to allocate additional resources to strengthen the manpower of ICCMWs to enhance the services and relieve the pressure of their staff.

     My reply to the Hon Cheung Kwok-che's question is as follows:

(a) Through consolidating the existing resources for mental health community support services and an additional provision of $70 million, the Government allocated a total of $130 million to set up 24 ICCMWs across the territory in October 2010. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, the Government will further enhance the manpower of ICCMWs by allocating additional provision of about $48 million to dovetail with the Hospital Authority's "Case Management Programme" and to provide services for more persons in need.  Thereupon, the annual provision for ICCMWs will be over $180 million.

     ICCMWs are funded under the Lump Sum Grant (LSG) subvention system. While non-governmental organisations operating ICCMWs (operators) are required to provide professional staff, including social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatric nurses and other supporting staff according to the service contract in order to ensure service standard and meet service need, under the LSG subvention system operators have the flexibility to deploy the subvention to arrange suitable staffing on their own. In this regard, SWD does not have statistics on the actual number of professional staff in each ICCMW.

(b) and (c) In planning for the services of ICCMWs, we have taken into consideration such factors as the population size, population density, area coverage etc., in setting up the following 24 ICCMWs -  

Districts                Number of ICCMWs

Central, Western,                   3
Southern and Islands
Eastern and Wan Chai                3

Kwun Tong                           1

Wong Tai Sin and Sai Kung           3

Kowloon City and Yau Tsim Mong      2

Sham Shui Po                        1

Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing            3

Sha Tin                             2

Tai Po and North                    2

Tuen Mun                            2

Yuen Long                           2

Total:                             24

     Depending on the situation and service needs of individual districts, the manpower and caseload of each ICCMW may vary. In this regard, it is not appropriate to make comparison of relevant figures among ICCMWs. Each ICCMW will flexibly deploy its resources to ensure that its services can meet the needs of its district. The ICCMWs have commenced service since October 2010. As at the end of December 2011, in total, 16 400 persons had registered as members of ICCMWs. ICCMWs had provided casework services to 15 300 ex-mentally ill persons and persons with suspected mental health problems and conducted 73 100 outreaching visits. Over 2 700 public education activities (with 171 000 participants) had also been organised to enhance public understanding of mental health.

(d) Currently, among the 24 ICCMWs, six are operating in permanent accommodation; seven have secured suitable premises and are conducting relevant preparatory work, such as preparing for or carrying out fitting-out works; and two have identified premises and will conduct local consultation later this year. We will continue to identify suitable premises for the remaining nine ICCMWs. Pending the availability of permanent accommodation, the operators of other ICCMWs will make use of suitable premises of their organisations or rent suitable commercial sites as temporary service points. SWD will examine an operator's application for setting up ICCMW at commercial premises in consultation with relevant government departments. Up to now, SWD has already approved four such applications and provided rent subsidy for renting commercial premises in setting up temporary service points in Kowloon City, Tsuen Wan, Eastern District and Mong Kok. We expect that, through renting private commercial premises, we can make available suitable premises for ICCMWs to provide the needed community support services for ex-mentally ill persons and other residents in need as soon as possible. The maximum level of reimbursable rent and rates for renting a commercial site for operating ICCMW is equivalent to the concessionary rent payable (Note) for and rate subsidy of renting premises in a public housing estate by that ICCMW.

Note: The Housing Authority can offer concessionary rate (currently at $45 per square metre) of its commercial premises to non-profit making organisations for welfare purpose at a lower-than-market rent.

Ends/Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:01