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LCQ6: Improving service quality of private residential care homes for the elderly and for persons with disabilities
     Following is a question by the Professor Hon Joseph Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):


     A number of incidents in which residents of private residential care homes for the elderly and for persons with disabilities (collectively referred to as "care homes") were abused by care homes' personnel have happened in recent years. Such situation has aroused concerns. Some family members of the residents have relayed to me that the authorities should amend the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance and the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance, with a view to improving the service quality of care homes, including raising the statutory minimum levels of care staff manpower, so as to prevent the recurrence of incidents of abuse of residents. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of complaints concerning the services of care homes received by the authorities in the past five years, together with a breakdown by the content of the complaints; whether the authorities have studied the relationship between those complaints and the shortage of care staff in the care homes concerned; if they have and the outcome indicates that manpower shortage has impacted on the service quality of the care homes concerned, how the authorities improve such situation;

(2) as there are opinions that notwithstanding the aforesaid ordinances have provided that unless a health worker is present, one nurse must be on duty between 7am and 6pm for every 60 residents in a care-and-attention home, care homes which just meet such statutory manpower requirement can hardly provide quality care services for their residents, whether the authorities will review the relevant provisions and codes of practice, with a view to raising the manpower level of care staff in care homes; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether the authorities will implement measures to enhance the service quality of care homes, such as encouraging all care homes throughout the territory to participate in accreditation schemes; if they will, of the details, including how they will assess the effectiveness of the measures concerned; if not, the reasons for that?


     My reply to the Professor Hon Joseph Lee's question is as follows:

(1) In the past five years, the Licensing Office of Residential Care Homes for the Elderly and the Licensing Office of Residential Care Homes for Persons with Disabilities (collectively referred to as "Licensing Offices") of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) received each year on average a total of about 300 complaints relating to residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs). In terms of subject matter, the above complaints received mainly involved care services (about 40 per cent), management (about 15 per cent), meals, environment and facilities (about 10 per cent), and manpower arrangements (about 10 per cent), etc.

     Upon receipt of complaints, the Licensing Offices will conduct investigations. If individual homes are found to have contravened the relevant requirements (including the statutory minimum staffing requirements not being met), depending on the nature and severity of the irregularities, the Licensing Offices will issue to the homes concerned advisory or warning letters or written directions requiring remedial measures to be taken. If a home persistently fails to improve its services, the Licensing Offices will, having regard to the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance and the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance as well as actual situation of irregularities, consider revoking the licence/certificate of exemption (CoE) of the home concerned or refusing to renew the licence/CoE in question or taking prosecution actions.

(2) The Government plans to start work on the review of the RCHE and RCHD legislation in 2017. To provide a foundation for the review of the RCHE and RCHD legislation, SWD will, among others, carry out a stocktaking exercise on the manpower situation of individual RCHEs and RCHDs by way of a pragmatic approach.

(3) Apart from administering monitoring measures, SWD has all along been attaching great importance to providing training for the sector that meets their needs so as to enhance the capability of home staff. In this connection, SWD has launched or is planning several new measures. One of the new measures is for SWD to engage, with funding from the Lotteries Fund, the Hong Kong Association of Gerontology and the Hong Kong Productivity Council to implement in 2016-17 the Quality Improvement Project for RCHEs and Management Training and Consultation Project for RCHDs respectively. The two projects last for two years and 15 months respectively. The scope of the projects includes organising various training courses on management, staff supervision, etc., for home operators and managers; providing individual homes with professional consultation on home management; and providing training for staff through classroom learning and on-site coaching. These two projects cover more than 600 RCHEs and about 80 RCHDs respectively.

     The Service Quality Standards (SQS) now being implemented by SWD define the level of standards in terms of management and service provision that service units are expected to attain. The set of standards is currently applicable to subvented homes, contract homes and private homes participating in bought place schemes. SWD plans to formulate a set of SQS applicable to private RCHEs and RCHDs. Through training and support on service consultation, SWD will assist and encourage private home operators and managers to implement the SQS in the homes, and at the same time assist them in developing a fair, just and open complaint management system.

     SWD has been implementing the Service Quality Group Scheme in RCHEs and RCHDs since 2004 and 2012 respectively. Under the Scheme, arrangements are made for different community stakeholders (including healthcare personnel, service users, their relatives and friends as well as local leaders, etc.) to conduct unannounced visits to homes and provide feedback on their facilities and service, thereby assisting and encouraging homes to enhance their service standard. Starting from April 2016, SWD has extended the Scheme to the whole territory with all types of RCHEs and all licensed RCHDs covered. The Scheme will later be further extended to cover all RCHDs issued with CoEs.

     In considering RCHEs' applications for the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme, SWD will award additional scores to those RCHEs which have passed accreditation so as to encourage private RCHEs to participate in accreditation programmes. In addition, through the Pilot Scheme on Residential Care Service Voucher for the Elderly, SWD will encourage recognised service providers to participate in accreditation programmes, including reimbursing 50 per cent of the accreditation fee to service providers which apply for the first time and have successfully acquired accreditation under an accreditation scheme that has been accredited by the Hong Kong Accreditation Service.
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:20
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