Housing group offers special help
Facilitating quality living for older generations is a major priority for the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS). However, rather than simply providing specialist housing for the elderly, the Society also pioneers initiatives aimed at improving their healthcare needs and general well-being.
Launched last year, the Society's 'Elderly Care Services Programme' provides specialist care services for elderly residents living on its estates.
The programme is specifically targeted at elderly people with emotional issues, victims of Alzheimer's disease and those who are prone to falls at home.
The programme operates through a network of occupational therapists and social workers, with support from social welfare organisations, and the Society's elderly resources centre and property management division.
Chairman Yeung Ka-sing says the programme seeks to address both the physical and psychological needs of the elderly in a comprehensive manner. 'After four decades of concerted effort, the Housing Society has gained an in-depth understanding of the needs and aspirations of seniors,' he says.
To date, more than 60 cases have been dealt with involving residents suffering from mental and emotional problems such as depression, hallucinations and delusions.
The HKHS recently employed two registered social workers as programme service co-ordinators. The social workers provide support and referral services to the elderly and their families. This includes home visits and case follow-ups.
While the programme remains in its infancy, the potential for expansion remains high given its success to date and the ever-rising demand for such services in Hong Kong.
'The preliminary goal of this project is to provide annual test services for 1,000 elderly people living alone or with a partner,' says Yeung.
Currently, the HKHS provides housing for about 90,000 residents, about one- third of whom are aged 60 or above. This ratio is much higher than the roughly 18 per cent of the city's population overall.
Having witnessed the benefit of the elderly care services programme firsthand, HKHS service co-ordinator Patrick Lai recalls how he and his colleagues were able to provide assistance to one elderly resident.
'An old man, aged almost 90, had been enduring enormous physical and psychological pressure after taking care of his 40-year-old son who was suffering from a mental disorder,' recalls Lai.
'When his son passed away, the elderly man was deeply affected and suffered from hallucinations, which compelled him to continue cooking for his deceased son.
'We eventually managed to liaise with his two daughters and encourage them to visit more frequently, which helped bring him out of the haze,' Lai explains.
With HKHS's services spanning a broad area, the types of elderly care jobs the organisation can offer are quite diverse.
They include everything from position for professionally-trained wardens, to numerous posts involved with the responsibility for co-ordinating planning.