• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 9:11pm

Billions being spent on care for elderly

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 6:27pm

Mark Peaker's letter ("Better care for elderly left to exist in misery", September 6 ) highlighted the challenges that we are facing in a fast ageing society.

The Hong Kong SAR government is fully aware of the problem and has been striving to improve support and outreach services to our needy senior citizens. The estimated expenditure on elderly care services in the social welfare policy area in 2013-14 amounts to HK$5.58 billion, 12 per cent up over last year.

Ageing in the community is the cherished wish of most elderly people. A wide range of subsidised community care services for our frail elderly citizens is provided through day care centres or the home and community care services teams across Hong Kong. We will continue to expand and enhance these services.

We rolled out the first phase of the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly earlier this month.

By adopting a "money-follows-the-user" and user-oriented approach, the scheme will benefit some 1,200 eligible elderly during the trial period.

With the immense challenges posed by our rapidly ageing population, we aim to promote the well-being of the elderly by providing services that will enable them to remain members of the community for as long as possible.

Where necessary, we make available residential care suited to their varying needs.

To enhance support for elderly persons with dementia, we are providing a recurrent allocation of HK$217 million in 2013-14 to allow eligible residential care homes for the elderly and day care centres to engage more professional staff and/or procure more related professional services.

We also provide financial support to these bodies to improve their facilities, such as bed monitoring systems, anti-wandering systems, and equipment for multi-sensory therapy to better address the needs of their dementia clients.

We are also mindful of the need for supporting families in caring for their elderly members at home, particularly if the elderly family members are suffering from dementia.

Among other things, we have implemented a district-based Scheme on Carer Training to provide training to carers.

Other supporting measures include counselling, establishment of resource centres and respite services for the elderly persons to allow care givers to take a short break when necessary.

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, secretary for labour and welfare


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The only thing that annoys me more than the government botching basic jobs like taking care of (low-income) elderly, is them spinning things to make it sound as if they are doing a great job.

HKD 5.58 billion spent on elderly sounds impressive at first. But it isn't. This amount is spent on more than 980,000 elderly (those aged 65 and above, as of mid-2012). That is on average HKD 5,600 per elderly per year.

Compare it to what we spend on (public and subvented) primary education: HKD 22 billion on about 250,000 pupils. That is HKD 88,000 per pupil per year. Secondary pupils costs even more, not to mention tertiary education. And that is all great. Children are the future right. But let's not pretend that HKD 5,600 per elderly is somehow generous.

Also, 5.6 billion sounds like a lot in aggregate, until you compare and contrast it to what projects like our high speed railway to Shenzhen will cost: 70 billion. Or the West-Kowloon Cultural Disaster Area project: 22 billion. Or the costs of the ongoing electricity subsidy for every household in Hong Kong: 4.5 billion per annum. Or the infamous 6,000 dollar hand-out scheme: 36 billion.

Let's face it, on a 430 billion (2013-14) government budget, 5.58 billion spent on 980,000 elderly is peanuts. And then you have already dragged in any conceivably elderly-related expense, like 'training carers' and 'supporting families with dementing eldery.'

Mr Cheung, stop boasting about peanuts, and go do a lot more please.


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