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Government releases Elderly Services Programme Plan
     The Labour and Welfare Bureau released today (June 28) the Elderly Services Programme Plan (ESPP) formulated by the Elderly Commission (EC). The ESPP proposes four strategic directions and 20 recommendations on the future development of elderly services, including improving the quality of elderly services and strengthening the planning in service supply, land, manpower and financial input. The Government accepts in principle the strategic directions and recommendations in the ESPP, and will proceed to make arrangements for the implementation of the recommendations.

     The ESPP identifies the following major challenges facing elderly services in Hong Kong:

(1) surge in service demand coupled with a shrinking workforce and reducing number of family carers;

(2) an over-reliance on residential care services (RCS) by the society, leading to an imbalance when compared to community care services (CCS);

(3) the changing socio-demographic profile of the future generations of elderly persons, which will lead to users' expectation of more choices of services and autonomy in using elderly services; and

(4) increasing expenditure on elderly services due to population ageing.

     In the light of these challenges, the ESPP proposes four strategic directions and 20 recommendations. The strategic directions and the major recommendations are as follows:

(1) Achieve "ageing-in-place" and reduce institutionalisation rate through significantly strengthening CCS
  • Strengthen CCS to enable elderly persons to stay in the community for as long as possible and avoid unnecessary institutionalisation. Directions recommended for consideration include strengthening the following services: the provision of services to elderly persons with mild impairments, transitional care support to elderly persons discharged from hospitals, respite services, carer support services, etc;
  • Reinstate population-based planning ratios for elderly services in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, and consider adopting an "estate-based" approach in reserving sites for elderly facilities; and
  • Implement a host of measures to build up a more sustainable workforce for elderly services.

(2) Enable informed choices and timely access to quality services
  • Explore developing a case management model; and
  • Enhance the utilisation of information technology of both elderly service users and service providers.

(3) Further streamline and promote integrated service delivery
  • Forge a more effective partnership among pivotal players in the interface between welfare, healthcare and housing, e.g. enhancing support to discharged elderly patients, continuing the efforts in expanding the coverage of outreaching services of the healthcare sector, strengthening co-ordination between hospitals and community services, improving the age-friendliness of the community, etc.

(4) Ensure financial sustainability and accountability of elderly services
  • Continue to explore co-payment arrangements that are commensurate with affordability, explore measures to facilitate non-governmental organisations to provide self-financing services, and explore alternative long-term care (LTC) financing options in the long run.

     "The Government attaches great importance to the supply and planning of elderly services. In the past five years, the Government has significantly increased the resource input to elderly services by over 70 per cent. While the ESPP is being formulated, the Government has seized each and every opportunity to improve elderly services. For example, we have invited the Community Care Fund to launch two pilot schemes to support elderly persons discharged from public hospitals after treatment and elderly persons with mild impairment. Moreover, we have commenced the review of the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance so as to further improve the quality of elderly services," a spokesman for the Government said.

     The Government will next formulate a work plan on the implementation of the recommendations of the ESPP, and will make reference to the suggestions of the ESPP in deciding the priority for the various implementation measures.

     "The ESPP reaffirms our existing policy of 'ageing in place as the core, institutional care as backup'. It puts forth strategic directions and recommendations in the light of the long-term projection on the demand for LTC services. The ESPP has laid the foundation of the long-term development and planning of elderly services. In this year's Budget, the Government has already earmarked a sum of $30 billion from the fiscal reserves to enhance elderly services and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. The funding will be helpful in implementing the ESPP's numerous recommendations. In the years ahead, the Government will continue to work with the EC to study various issues relating to elderly services, such as measures for further improving the manpower situation and the provision of service facilities," the spokesman said.

     The EC was tasked by the Government in 2014 to formulate the ESPP to strengthen the medium to long-term planning of elderly services. The formulation process was structured into three stages, with a public engagement exercise included in each stage. At its meeting on June 23, the EC considered and endorsed the ESPP, which was formally submitted to the Government afterwards.

     The ESPP has been uploaded to the website of the EC (www.elderlycommission.gov.hk).
Ends/Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:22
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