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SWD invites eligible elderly persons to apply for first batch of vouchers under Pilot Scheme on Residential Care Service Voucher for the Elderly
     The Social Welfare Department (SWD) today (February 23) invited eligible elderly persons to join the Pilot Scheme on Residential Care Service Voucher (RCSV) for the Elderly, which will be launched next month.
     The Scheme, adopting the "money-following-the-user" principle, provides an additional choice for elderly persons in need of residential care service by allowing them to choose the services provided by eligible residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) operated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or the private sector under the Scheme according to their needs.
     A spokesman for the SWD said that the Scheme will be implemented in three phases, with different types of RCHEs joining the Scheme as recognised service providers (RSPs) in each phase. A total of 3 000 RCSVs will be issued to eligible elderly persons in five batches within a period of three years from 2017 to 2019. In the first batch, a maximum of 250 vouchers is available for application. Eligible elderly persons are those who have been assessed by the SWD's Standardised Care Need Assessment Mechanism for Elderly Services as moderately impaired and waitlisted for care-and-attention (C&A) places under the Central Waiting List (CWL) of Subsidised Long Term Care Services for the Elderly.    
     "Under the principle of 'users pay in accordance with affordability', the less an elderly person can afford, the more the Government subsidises. The department will adopt a sliding scale of co-payment at eight levels (Level 0 to Level 7). Elderly persons will be assessed on an individual basis in the means test and both income and assets will be taken into account in determining the co-payment level. The payment percentages of the elderly range from 0 per cent at the lowest to 75 per cent at the highest (see Annex)," the spokesman said.
     Under the Scheme, the voucher value, which will be adjusted annually, is pitched at $12,416 per month in 2016-17. The RCHEs participating in the Scheme (i.e. the RSPs) will provide a "standard service package" under the voucher value for RCSV holders, the scope of which is comparable to that of subsidised C&A places under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme in order the meet the basic care needs of elderly persons. The RCSV holders and their family members may make top-up payments to purchase enhanced or value-added services such as an upgraded dormitory and acupuncture from RSPs, up to an amount of 75 per cent of the voucher value in force.
     "Under the Scheme, the SWD will provide a case management service for the voucher holders to assist them in selecting suitable RSPs, and provide follow-up support after their admission to RSPs, such as conducting regular visits to them, monitoring their adjustment to the new environment and helping them to change RSPs when necessary," the spokesman added.
     He said the Scheme will provide a six-month trial period for first-time voucher holders. A voucher holder's status on the CWL will be changed to "inactive" once a voucher is issued to him or her. If the holder decides to opt out of the Scheme during or upon expiry of the trial period, his or her status on the CWL will then be "reactivated". If the holder decides to continue to stay in the Scheme after the trial period, his or her application on the CWL will be closed.
     The SWD has earlier invited eligible RCHEs under the first phase of the Scheme, namely subvented homes, contract homes and NGO-run self-financing homes, to apply to be RSPs. As of today, there are 21 RCHEs participating as RSPs, offering a total of 823 beds which can accept voucher holders. For details of the Scheme and the list of RSPs, which will be updated from time to time, people may visit the SWD website at www.swd.gov.hk.
     The spokesman pointed out that invitation letters were sent to a number of eligible elderly persons today according to their application dates for long-term care services, inviting them to consider applying for the first batch of RCSVs by March 22. If the number of applications received upon the close of application exceeds the quota, the applications will be prioritised according to the applicants' position on the CWL and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance status.
     Successful applicants will be issued with RCSVs from late March or early April 2017 onwards. Elderly persons or their carers who have received the invitation letters and have enquiries on the Scheme may call the Residential Care Service Voucher Office of the SWD at 3107 3280 or 3107 3290. The telephone lines will operate from 9.30am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 5pm on Monday to Friday, except public holidays.
Ends/Thursday, February 23, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00
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