Pilot subsidy scheme for Hong Kong’s elderly to be expanded to 18 districts

More senior citizens in more areas of the city will receive funding for vital community care services from October 3

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2016, 10:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 11:36am

The government’s community care subsidy scheme for the elderly is set to expand as the second phase of the programme is rolled out next month.

From October 3, moderately or severely impaired elderly residents in 18 districts who are lining up for subsidised long-term care services will be eligible for monthly vouchers ranging from HK$3,600 to HK$8,600, to go towards paying for community care services.

Recipients can apply for any of the voucher amounts, with household income tests, including for those living on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, to decide the relevant co-payment amount. Co-payments will range from five to 40 per cent of the voucher amount.

Recipients of the scheme will be able to cash in their vouchers at 124 different community care service providers, including three private ones. A maximum of 3,000 vouchers will be issued under phase two.

Diana Chu Wing-yin, chief social work officer of the Social Welfare Department, said recipients of the maximum vouchers could cover themselves for up to six days of day care centre services per week, for a month.

“The maximum amount of HK$8,600 should be sufficient for intense users of services. If other elderly individuals do not need that many services each month, they can simply choose a cheaper voucher,” Chu said.

She added that service providers cannot charge more than the recommended maximum price, adjusted for inflation.

“Elderly can choose services based on their needs and affordability,” Chu said.

A centralised team will be designated to assist elderly recipients to select their services and conduct random inspections on service providers.

The Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly was launched in September 2013 to eight districts, providing subsidised services to 1,200 moderately impaired elderly.

Peter Cheung Kwok-che, outgoing lawmaker for the welfare sector, worried about private service operators’ costs.

“The private ones might persuade elderly to purchase more extra services, or lower the quality of services,” said Cheung.

The Social Welfare Department on Wednesday started invited eligible elderly individuals to join the scheme. Voucher users in the first phase would also be invited.