More subsidies for alarm systems needed to help dementia patients, elderly services body says
Recommendation follows road accident involving a man with dementia who wandered from elderly home
The Elderly Services Association of Hong Kong, a leading body that represents the majority of eldercare homes in the city, urged the government to offer more subsidies for installing alarm systems that would keep wandering dementia patients safe.
The suggestion comes a day after a 79-year-old man, who was suffering from dementia, was run over by a minibus after he wandered from an elderly home on Sunday at around 2am.
The Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council, which runs the home in Ngau Tau Kok, did not provide an explanation to how Ng Chi-keung was able to leave the premises when all doors to the centre were locked and required key card access.
The council said it would set up a panel to investigate the incident and check the security footage.
Grace Li Fai, chairwoman of the Elderly Services Association of Hong Kong, said most government-subsidised elderly care homes had already installed wander detectors seven years ago, but some private institutions are still unable to afford them.
The system – made up of a sensor fixed to the door and a metal needle inserted into the shoes of a resident – is linked to the home’s broadcasting system. If an elderly person walks out the door, it will activate the broadcasting system to sound an alert.
“Even if you have a caretaker looking after residents around the clock on a one-on-one basis, there are still risks that they may wander off by themselves. This is why technology can help fill the gaps,” Li said.
There are 546 private elderly care homes and 148 government-subsidised homes, according to the Social Welfare Department.
Li said that a portion of privately run homes are unable to afford the detectors because at least HK$30,000 is needed to install a sensor to one door.
“The government should offer subsidies to these homes so they can prevent tragic accidents from happening again,” Li said.
A representative from the council said that the home, which is subsidised by the government, had installed a detection system.
The number of people with dementia in the city is expected to grow from 100,000 last year to 300,000 in 2039, according to projections from the Census and Statistics Department.