Homes for elderly sent warnings on use of residents' bonus

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am

The government has issued a set of revised guidelines to private residential care homes for the elderly to remind them not to use welfare payment bonuses to cover residential care fees. The guidelines were sent to all homes on Tuesday, the Social Welfare Department said yesterday.

The initiative came after a media report last month that at least 40 homes had said they would use the bonus month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to be paid this year to pay residential fees without seeking residents' approval.

In the budget announced in February, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said about 500,000 CSSA recipients would get an extra month's payment this year.

The revised guidelines say care homes cannot use welfare payment bonuses to cover residential care fees. The department said it would write to all care homes for the elderly again to remind them after the legislature passed this year's budget.

At an elderly services subcommittee meeting of the Legislative Council's panel on welfare services yesterday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the Elderly Commission's report on the services of residential care homes for the elderly would be completed in the first quarter of next year.

He said it would study how to boost people's confidence in such homes, some of which were often criticised for poor quality.

According to government figures, 23,634 elderly people were waiting for various types of subsidised residential care places in October last year.

Subcommittee chairman Frederick Fung Kin-kee suggested the government should rate private care homes according to their quality and provide more economic incentives to those it rated as having higher standards.

Mr Cheung said Mr Fung's idea would be considered by the commission, which would also study whether elderly people waiting for a place at subsidised care homes should be subjected to a means test.