More flats to cater for needs of elderly

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2004, 12:00am

Research shows a growing need for above-average housing for the aged

The Housing Society will provide more quality flats for the elderly after a study highlighted a strong demand for such accommodation.

The University of Hong Kong study, which the society commissioned, found that there was a shortage of flats that catered specifically for the health and community care needs of the elderly.

'There is not a big problem with the supply of elderly housing in Hong Kong in terms of quantity, but the city should focus on providing quality elderly housing in the long run,' the report concluded.

The Comprehensive Study on the Housing Needs of the Elderly advocates an integrated system that provides accommodation, health needs - in the form of nurses on hand to provide care - and social support services.

The society's chairman, David Lee Tsung-hei, said it would redesign some of its subsidised rental flats and also explore the possibility of providing serviced apartments for those elderly people who were better off.

He said the society had been in discussion with insurance companies to provide schemes that would allow the middle-aged to prepare for their living arrangements after retirement.

The society's executive director, Wong Lai-chun, said there would be various schemes to cater for the needs of people from all income groups.

The study predicted that about 20,000 elderly households would have some kind of housing need between 2003 and 2006, and about 90 per cent would involve people moving into public housing.

It said: 'Elderly housing should address a number of basic principles including dignity, ageing in place, continuum of care, convenient lodging, community environment and social inclusion.'

The associate director of the university's Sau Po Centre on Ageing, Ernest Chui Wing-tat, said: 'It is not just about cheap rent. It is also because of supporting services they can receive if they are public housing tenants.'

Dr Chui, who headed the study, said there was not much choice of accommodation that had been specially designed for the elderly in the private housing market.

At present, public housing tenants have better access to community support services.

As the society starts to refurbish the 40-year-old Moon Lok Dai Ha estate in Tsuen Wan, it will reserve some floors for the elderly and include features such as hand rails and larger bathrooms.

It will also work with a number of non-profit-making organisations to provide services to elderly tenants living in Moon Lok Dai Ha.

The society's second elderly housing project - Cheerful Court in Jordan Valley - will be available on the market in August.

The services will be similar to those available in another society project - Jolly Place in Tseung Kwan O. The 243-flat building has a health centre, gym, garden, sauna and pool.