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LCQ20: Integrated palliative treatment and care services

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (December 10):


     At present, the Hospital Authority (HA) has set up a dedicated team of professionals to provide hospice and palliative care services with a comprehensive service model for terminally-ill patients to alleviate their physical and emotional distress and improve their quality of life at the end-of-life stage. Some terminally-ill patients in public hospitals have indicated that they regard their pets as family members and therefore hope that arrangements can be made for them to see their pets in the hospital (pet visitation arrangements) as they approach the end of life. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:

(1) whether HA has exercised discretion to make pet visitation arrangements on humane grounds; if HA has, of the procedures concerned; whether HA has drawn reference from relevant overseas practices;

(2) the respective numbers of requests from terminally-ill patients for pet visitation arrangements received and approved by HA in the past three years; and

(3) the reasons why pet visitation arrangements are not part of HA's current hospice and palliative care services; whether HA will consider including such arrangements into the scope of such services?



     Regarding the question raised on the integrated palliative treatment and care services provided by the Hospital Authority (HA), my consolidated reply is as follows:  

(1) to (3) With the aim to provide holistic care to patients, HA has been providing palliative care services with a comprehensive service model for terminally-ill patients and their families through a multidisciplinary team of professionals, in order to cater for their needs in various aspects.

     When approaching the end of life, apart from physical symptoms, it is common for patients to experience emotional and psychological distress. HA has been enhancing palliative care psychosocial services through strengthening services provided by medical social workers and clinical psychologists, in order to identify high-risk patients and their family members and provide them with early intervention as well as professional psychological and emotional support.
     The HA appreciates that some terminally-ill inpatients may wish to see their pets, whom they treat as family members, in their last days. Nevertheless, taking into account factors including hospital safety and infection control, the physical condition of the patients concerned and the impacts on other patients, their families and hospital staff, the HA Palliative Care Units will consider individual requests for seeing their pets in hospital on a case by case basis and discretion might be exercised on compassionate grounds.

     The HA does not maintain statistics on the number of requests from terminally-ill patients for arrangement to see their pets in the hospital.

Ends/Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:10


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