Hong Kong design centre serves rising demand for homes that meet needs of elderly

More and more people are adapting flats to suit requirements of ageing relatives

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 9:28pm

The city’s first design centre focused on elderly living was launched on Wednesday to help meet rising demand for retrofitted homes for senior citizens.

The 530 sq ft showroom inside a furniture store in Cheung Sha Wan was a joint effort by four social enterprises to help Hongkongers better understand the needs of elderly family members.

Items included anti-slip tiles, lighted handrails, bed handles and hidden kitchen doors that are colour-blended in the wall to prevent dementia patients from slipping out unnoticed.

“The market is definitely huge and growing,” said Vincent Mo Wing-chung, of the Longevity Design House, one of the showroom’s co-organisers.

Time is running out to find solutions to housing problems faced by Hong Kong’s rapidly ageing population

Doubts about the quality of service in care homes for the elderly was one factor driving people to renovate their homes to allow elderly relatives to “age in place”, he said.

“People used to think they had no choice but to send their family members to elderly care centres,” Mo said. “But now they have an alternative.”

The Longevity Design House had helped 30 households since last September, with most attention given to bathrooms, where more than 90 per cent of accidents occurred.

Mo expected business to grow threefold in the coming year. They were targeting flat owners aged 60 or above who are eligible to apply for a HK$40,000 maintenance grant under a Housing Society scheme launched in 2008.

A bathroom revamp would cost HK$58,000, Mo said, but the bill could be trimmed by around HK$5,000 if leftover materials were used. Some construction firms give such items, like tiles, to social enterprises for free.

Herman Chan Ho-man, executive director of Eldpathy, another of the social enterprises, hoped the showroom could educate people on what a truly elderly friendly home should look like.

“Many people have wanted to renovate their parents’ home but have absolutely no idea what to do,” he said. “We hope the first-hand experience here will shed some light on it so they can spend money on things that actually facilitate the lives of senior residents.”