More homes urged to cater for the elderly
The incoming government should provide more housing for the elderly as a quarter of the city's population will be over 65 by 2036, says Marco Wu Moon-hoi, a former deputy director of housing.
Wu, who helped chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying draft his platform, said: 'The policy for old people is not to send them to institutions, but to let them remain home - what we call 'ageing in place'.'
Last year, there were 941,300 people, or 13 per cent of the population, over 65, a figure that is expected to grow to 25 per cent in 24 years, according to an earlier government study.
Wu said a systematic approach was needed to revise urban planning guidelines to link the provision of facilities for the elderly in proportion to the population. However, at present, the Planning Department does not have a standard formula for this, although it does have a formula for linking the number of schools to the number of children.
Planning on homes for the elderly should cover not only design needs in flats, such as grip bars in bathrooms, but also facilities for their health care and social life at the doorstep, Wu said. The government should look at more than 50 public rental estates that were older than 30 years and introduce day-care centres, clinics and activity centres for the elderly. It may have to work with The Link Management, which operates shopping malls in most of the housing estates, to find the space, he said.
To cater for wealthier elderly people, it should grant sites to the Housing Society, which has been running two 'senior citizen residence schemes' at Ngau Tau Kok and Tseung Kwan O. The two projects with a range of care and recreational facilities are fully occupied with 300 retired people on a waiting list.
The society is building another two projects, at North Point and Tin Shui Wai, for wealthy retired people, in an attempt to set up a model for private developers.
Wu also urged the government to speed up training of construction workers to cope with future housing projects, as a manpower shortage had contributed to rising construction costs.