LCQ4: Temporary contract care workers
To assist residential care homes (RCHs) for the elderly and for persons with disabilities in coping with the manpower shortage arising from the fifth wave of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 epidemic, the Social Welfare Department recruited, in early March this year, respectively in Hong Kong and from the Mainland temporary contract care workers on a three-month contract period, and deployed some of these care workers to station in different RCHs for providing services, so as to alleviate the manpower pressure on RCHs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective numbers of the aforesaid newly recruited local and Mainland care workers; whether it has offered further employment to those care workers whose contracts have expired, and whether it has plans to offer further employment to those care workers whose contracts have not yet expired; if so, of the upper limits for the relevant contract periods and number of care workers;
(2) given that this batch of care workers are only required to undergo a three-day training course before they may commence service, of the differences between the contents of such course and those of the 152-hour Foundation Certificate in Care Worker Training course offered by the Employees Retraining Board; whether it has assessed the differences in the quality of services provided by the care workers trained under these two courses; and
(3) whether it will consider providing in-depth training courses for this batch of care workers to enhance their service quality, thereby assisting them in changing to the post of care worker to be employed on a long-term basis in future; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My consolidated reply to the Member's question is as follows:
To fight against the fifth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) urgently employed 353 and 762 temporary contract care workers with a three-month contract locally and from the Mainland respectively in March 2022. Upon completion of training, these temporary contract care workers were deployed by the SWD to residential care homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities, isolation facilities and holding centres to assist in taking care of elderly persons and persons with disabilities.
The SWD engaged four training institutes, comprising the Haven of Hope Professional Training Institute of Haven of Hope Christian Service, Caritas Institute of Community Education, Hong Kong Institute of Gerontology and Yan Oi Tong Jockey Club Training Centre, to provide a three-day training programme for the temporary contract care workers. The aforementioned four training institutes have been approved by the SWD to offer training courses for care workers under the Training Subsidy Scheme for Staff of Residential Care Homes. The courses are accredited at the Qualifications Framework Level 2 and with not less than 21 hours of classroom learning. The course content includes daily personal care, oral care and foot care, vital signs, communication skills, lifting and transfer, infection control skills, etc. The syllabus of the training programme for the temporary contract care workers was formulated by making reference to the training courses for care workers under the Training Subsidy Scheme among which classroom training should account for no less than 21 hours. Temporary contract care workers who were employed had to complete the training programme and pass the assessment before they were deployed to provide services.
To meet the needs of different people, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) offers a variety of training courses, including the Placement-tied Courses dedicated for the unemployed, the Generic Skills Courses applicable for different industries, the Skills Upgrading Courses for enhancing the skills of employees, etc. The full-time Foundation Certificate in Care Worker Training provided by the ERB targets at those who are unemployed or job seekers. Apart from the skills required for daily care of elderly persons, the training content includes introduction to the care sector, knowledge on ageing and how to seek medical consultation for elderly persons, as well as topics such as personal development and job search skills. The ERB also provides various skills upgrading courses for the healthcare service industry to assist trainees in enhancing their competence and attaining multi-dimensional skills. There are over 20 courses that are suitable for enrolment of care workers, and the trainees may apply for fee waivers or course fee subsidies. In addition, the Government will continue to train and encourage young people to join the care sector through the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services, and will continue to closely monitor the manpower situation of the sector and explore suitable enhancement measures.
As the pandemic gradually stabilised, the holding centres set up by the SWD earlier in the community have ceased to operate. Currently, there is no plan to extend the employment of the temporary contract care workers. Nevertheless, it is believed that the training they received prior to employment, and the knowledge and practical experience about care work they gained during employment, should have a positive impact on them joining the care sector.
Ends/Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:15
Issued at HKT 12:15