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SWD invites eligible elderly persons to join second phase of Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly
     The Social Welfare Department (SWD) will, starting from today (September 7), invite eligible elderly persons in batches to join the Second Phase of the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly which will be launched on October 3.

     The Government was allocated funding from the Lotteries Fund to launch the First Phase of the Scheme in September 2013 to allow elderly persons in need to receive community care services under a new funding mode, i.e. the "money-following-the-user" approach. The Government provided a subsidy in the form of a voucher directly to eligible elderly persons so that they could choose the service packages which best suit their needs. Funding from the Lotteries Fund has also been allocated to implement the Second Phase of the Scheme, which will last for two years.

     "Hong Kong is facing the challenges brought about by a rapidly ageing population. The Government has been adopting a multi-pronged approach to strengthen elderly services on various fronts based on the principle of 'ageing in place as the core, institutional care as backup'. In recent years, the Government has also spared no effort in enhancing the quality and quantity of elderly services by introducing different modes of services," the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said.

     "The new funding mode of 'money-following-the-user' under the Scheme introduced in 2013 is user-based and has provided more flexibility for the elderly in selecting service providers and care services."

     Mr Cheung stressed that the Government will continue to allocate resources for other community and residential care services for the elderly, thereby providing elderly persons with a sense of security, a sense of belonging and a feeling of health and worthiness. "In 2016-17, the recurrent government expenditure on elderly services is about $7.4 billion. This represents an increase of about 50 per cent over the figure of about $5 billion five years ago," he said.

     A spokesman for the SWD said that eligible elderly persons for the Second Phase of the Scheme are those on the Central Waiting List of Subsidised Long Term Care Services for Elderly and have been assessed by the SWD's Standardised Care Need Assessment Mechanism for Elderly Service as moderately or severely impaired. They should be living in the community, without receiving any type of residential care or the SWD's subsidised community care service.

     "The coverage of the Second Phase of the Scheme will be extended from eight districts to all 18 districts across the territory and target beneficiaries will also include elderly persons who are assessed as severely impaired in addition to those with moderate impairment. An additional 1 800 vouchers will be issued in the Second Phase, up to a maximum of 3 000 if the existing 1 200 voucher holders of the First Phase choose to opt for migration to the Second Phase. The voucher value will be expanded from one single voucher value in the First Phase to five different voucher values ranging from $3,600 to $8,600 to suit individual needs and choice," the spokesman said.

     He added that under the "users pay in accordance with affordability" principle, the less that an elderly person can afford, the more the Government subsidises. The SWD will determine the co-payment level, one of six categories ranging from 5 per cent to 40 per cent of the service package values, for the elderly persons based on their household income. 

     The 124 Recognised Service Providers (RSPs) joining the Second Phase of the Scheme are non-government organisations and non-profit-making organisations (including social enterprises) as well as qualified private organisations. A total of about 2 100 day care places and about 2 900 home care places will be provided. Voucher holders will be free to choose centre-based and/or home-based services and, if needed, may purchase residential respite services using the monthly voucher value.

     Moreover, the SWD will set up a Centralised Team mainly staffed by social workers in the Second Phase of the Scheme. In addition to enhanced monitoring of RSPs, the team will also provide in collaboration with Responsible Workers dedicated support and assistance to voucher holders including providing information on RSPs, assisting elderly persons to decide whether they should apply for vouchers, selecting suitable RSPs and service packages, and transferring to another RSP where necessary.

     Eligible elderly persons or their carers/relatives who have enquiries on application for the Second Phase of the Scheme and/or selection of RSPs or service packages may approach the Centralised Team of the Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly of the SWD, or the responsible workers of the elderly persons for assistance, the spokesman added.

     The telephone number of the Centralised Team, 3107 3013, will operate from Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 5pm, except public holidays.
Ends/Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:25
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