Places for aged may go despite extension
Some government-funded homes for the elderly face closure if they cannot meet licensing conditions by March 2001.
Thirty-one subsidised homes are still operating on certificates of exemption although the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance has been in effect since June 1996.
The Social Welfare Department issued an ultimatum last month, giving an extra 18 months for the homes to be brought up to standard.
But although the department says all the homes are capable of meeting the deadline, a few operators are planning to give up the service.
Cecilia Yuen Kwong Sau-yee, the department's acting chief social work (elderly) officer, said: 'Some agencies have told us they are considering re-engineering, relocating or redeveloping their services.' But she said discretion beyond the 18-month deadline might be granted if home operators could demonstrate a definite upgrading plan.
Jacky Yim Chi-keung, officer-in-charge in administration of the Hong Kong Society for the Aged, said: 'There are lots of difficulties.
'For example, if we want to install a sprinkler system but have no water tank on the roof, we need approval from both the Housing and Water Supplies departments.' Obtaining funding approval from different departments took time as did a search for an affordable contractor, he said.