Government devoted to building age-friendly community to help elderly people lead a fruitful life (with photos)

     The Government is devoted to the development of elderly services with a view to building an age-friendly community through partnership with the community and the business sector to enable elderly people to live a decent life with a sense of security and a feeling of health and worthiness, the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip, said today (September 30). She also encouraged people to show care and concern for the elderly members of their family and the neighbourhood and provide them with opportunities to further contribute to society.

     Speaking at the 2016 Award Presentation Ceremony of the Opportunities for the Elderly Project (OEP) today, Ms Yip said that the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has been subsidising and enhancing the implementation of the OEP to promote community involvement of elderly persons in various aspects and encourage them to make good use of their strengths and skills to cultivate a sense of self-worthiness. For better use of resources, the OEP was merged with the Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project, formerly under the Elderly Commission, in January this year. The theme for the joint project in 2016-18 aims at strengthening support networks at the neighbourhood level and encouraging elderly persons to make full use of their expertise and ample life experience to create an age-friendly community.

     "Since the launch of the OEP in 1998-99, over 4 600 district programmes with more than 2.8 million participants have been subsidised, and the total amount of subsidy has exceeded $50 million. More importantly, some elderly participants have even taken a leading role and become more and more involved in planning and implementing activities. In 2014-16, more than 12 000 elderly volunteers participated in the project," Ms Yip said.

     She added that to cope with the ageing population, it has always been the Government's priority and objective to continuously improve and enhance services for the elderly. The Government's expenditure on social welfare, medical services and social security for the elderly in the current financial year amounts to $67.3 billion, taking up about 20 per cent of recurrent government expenditure. Among this, the recurrent expenditure on elderly care services amounts to about $7.4 billion, up nearly 50 per cent over the figure of about $5 billion five years ago.

     Ms Yip pointed out that the Government is implementing a wide range of initiatives to strengthen elderly care services on various fronts to achieve the policy objective of "ageing in place as the core, institutional care as backup". These include launching the territory-wide Second Phase of the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly next month, rolling out Phase II of the Pilot Scheme on Living Allowance for Carers of Elderly Persons from Low Income Families through the Community Care Fund next month, carrying out a pilot scheme on dementia community support services for the Elderly early next year, implementing the Pilot Project on Child Care Training for Grandparents, enhancing the facilities and environment of elderly centres through the Improvement Programme of Elderly Centres, subsidising the concessionary $2 fare scheme, and allocating extra funding for the Elder Academy Scheme to promote continuous learning among elderly people. In the long run, the Elderly Commission is pressing ahead with formulating an Elderly Services Programme Plan in mid-2017 to comprehensively review the Government's policy in caring for the elderly.

     At the ceremony today, awards were presented to organisations and elderly participants for their outstanding performance in implementing one-year projects (2015-16) and two-year projects (2014-16).

     Apart from presenting prizes, Ms Yip as well as the Chairman of the Elderly Commission and Chairman of the OEP Advisory Committee, Dr Lam Ching-choi, and other officiating guests also launched the SWD's latest television Announcement in the Public Interest (API) on neighbourhood support and care for the elderly at the ceremony. Echoing the slogan of the API, Ms Yip called on everyone to "take a little step" to help elderly persons live a more enjoyable life.

     Today's event was organised by the SWD's Working Group on OEP. Apart from commending the participating organisations and elderly persons, it also aimed at enhancing intergenerational harmony, promoting respect and care for elderly persons in the community and cultivating a sense of self-worthiness among elderly people.

Ends/Friday, September 30, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:50