LCQ13: Respite services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities
The 2022 Policy Address has put forward increasing the number of places of respite services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities (PWDs) (respite services) as well as enhancing the service enquiry system, so as to strengthen the support for the carers of elderly persons and PWDs (carers). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the following information on the various types of respite services in the territory in each of the past three years: the (i) utilisation rates, (ii) carers' reasons for applying for the services, (iii) average length of stay in respite facilities of the elderly persons and PWDs concerned, and (iv) numbers and percentages of those elderly persons and PWDs who travelled to other districts to use the services;
(2) whether the authorities will, in view of the demand for respite services in different districts, correspondingly increase the service places and ancillary services, so as to enhance the effectiveness of such services; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it knows the current number of Rehabuses in Hong Kong; as it is learnt that some carers find it difficult to book Rehabuses for travelling to organisations providing respite services, whether the Government will introduce measures to step up Rehabus services, so as to meet the demand; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) as a study has pointed out that currently the utilisation rates of respite services are on the low side, and the reasons for that include inadequate publicity and complicated application procedures (especially for those carers with urgent needs), whether the authorities will step up publicity efforts and streamline the application procedures; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(5) of the timetable and latest progress for enhancing the enquiry system for respite services; and
(6) whether the Government will, in view of the rapid ageing of Hong Kong's population, include the provision of respite facilities in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, so as to better cope with the demand for respite services; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the question raised by the Member is as follows:
(1) Day and residential respite services provide relief for carers of elderly persons and of persons with disabilities, allowing carers to take short-term breaks or attend to other matters when required (e.g. when the carer needs to leave Hong Kong temporarily or to be hospitalised for treatment, or the domestic helper is temporarily absent from work).
In the past three years (i.e. 2019-20 to 2021-22), the utilisation rates of day and residential respite services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities are set out in the table below:
|Year||Day respite service at Day Care Centres/Units for the Elderly||Residential respite service for the elderly||Day respite service for persons with disabilities||Residential respite service for persons with disabilities|
|2019-20||46 per cent||62 per cent||17 per cent||12 per cent|
|2020-21 (Note)||18 per cent||51 per cent||12 per cent||2 per cent|
|2021-22 (Note)||27 per cent||52 per cent||16 per cent||3 per cent|
The Social Welfare Department (SWD) does not maintain information on the average length of stay of elderly persons and persons with disabilities using respite services, as well as cross-district service users.
(2) The SWD has been taking account of the demographic characteristics and service demand in various districts in planning the required elderly and rehabilitation service facilities and increasing the provision of respite service places correspondingly. For details, please refer to the reply for item (6) below.
For respite services for the elderly, the Government currently provides about 230 designated day respite service places and about 330 designated residential respite places, and will provide about 30 additional day respite service places by the end of 2023-24. For respite services for persons with disabilities, the Government currently provides about 160 day respite service places and about 390 residential respite places, and will provide about 50 additional day and residential respite service places for persons with disabilities by the end of 2023-24.
Moreover, the Government will continue to increase the welfare services facilities through a multi-pronged approach, including reserving premises equivalent to about five per cent of the total domestic gross floor area in public housing projects in the future for different kinds of welfare purposes, so as to assist service users in all districts to use service facilities (including respite service) in the vicinity.
(3) The Government reviews the service needs for Rehabus service every year and will procure new rehabuses where necessary. In the past five years (i.e. 2017-18 to 2021-22), the Government procured 52 additional rehabuses, increasing the size of fleet by 33 per cent from 156 to 208 vehicles. In this financial year, the Government will procure nine additional rehabuses which are expected to be in full operation in early 2023, further increasing the size of fleet to 217 vehicles. The Government will continue to review the fleet size, routes and mode of service of Rehabus, with a view to continuously enhancing the Rehabus service.
(4) Members of the public in need of day and residential respite services may directly approach service units for enquiry and admission, or they may be referred through Integrated Family Service Centres/Integrated Services Centres, Medical Social Services Units, District Elderly Community Centres/Neighbourhood Elderly Centres, special schools or rehabilitation service units, without undergoing the Standardised Care Need Assessment Mechanism and medical examination. Elderly persons or persons with disabilities in urgent need of short stay could directly approach the private residential care homes for elderly and persons with disabilities providing designated respite service places under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme and Bought Place Scheme for Private Residential Care Home for Persons with Disabilities.
The SWD strengthened the promotion of respite services in the past year, including advertising on the post pouch boxes over the territory to promote residential respite services and the "Vacancy Enquiry System for Residential Respite Service for Persons with Disabilities, Residential Respite Service for the Elderly and Emergency Placement for the Elderly". The SWD will also launch a three-year publicity campaign on carers and organise a series of carer-centric programmes with different stakeholders, including strengthening the publicity to encourage carers to understand and make good use of the respite services. The SWD will continue to liaise with service providers to review the service operation, strengthen publicity on respite services and simplify the service application procedures.
(5) To facilitate the public's checking of the vacancies of residential respite places which suit their needs, the SWD launched the Enquiry System in 2019 and plans to enhance the Enquiry System in mid-2023 to cover day respite services, to assist carers' search for suitable day and residential respite services through the Enquiry System.
(6) The Government incorporated population-based planning standards of subsidised elderly and rehabilitation services into the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) respectively in December 2018 and March 2023. While respite services are not incorporated into the HKPSG as an independent item, the SWD will provide additional respite service places in the newly constructed subvented centres/service units/residential care homes as needed. In planning the provision of respite service, the SWD will consider various factors, including distribution of community care services, service demand arising from demographic transition, as well as the provision and utilisation of various kinds of respite services.
Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:12
Issued at HKT 12:12