Pensions, lack of quality care homes top worries of elderly in Hong Kong

Survey released to mark Elderly Day finds about half of aged in city concerned about financial security and low number of care facilities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 11:40pm

Almost half of the elderly in Hong Kong were upset about their pension arrangements and the lack of quality care homes, a new survey which polled more than 1,000 elderly people showed.

The survey, released to mark Elderly Day yesterday and which was conducted between April and August by the Hong Kong Christian Service, found about half of 1,096 respondents aged 60 and above were not happy about the number and quality of care homes, while 48 per cent worried they did not have enough funds for their retirement.

The levels of disappointment on these two aspects were the highest among 10 factors which most older people believed would affect their hope for the future.

Other factors that upset the respondents include opportunities to contribute to society, elderly health care services, outdoor space and community facilities, and elderly community support and living environment.

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“A sense of hope is very important for the mental health of elderly people,” Li Tin-lun, who is in charge of the Hong Kong Christian Service’s Sham Shui Po integrated home care service team, said. “[A lack of hope] may lead to elderly isolation or even suicide.”

Li said that when about half of old people are upset about elderly care services and the pension system, the government needed to pay attention. He said many old people needed to wait for a long time for a place in government-subsidised care homes, while private care homes were either too expensive or had poor service.

As of last month, the average waiting time for subsidised care homes was three years.

Tse Chin-pang, 72, a member of the service’s council on the elderly, urged the government to provide more places at subsidised care homes and give more manpower support to private care homes to improve service quality.

He also urged the government to introduce a universal pension system, with a monthly allowance of at least HK$3,500, to provide life security for retirees. “Many elderly people feel their personal savings will not be enough to support them,” Tse said.

The Mandatory Provident Fund, a compulsory savings plan enforced in 2000, does not cover those who retired before that or those who are self-employed.

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The Christian Service also compiled a hope index based on respondents’ ratings on 12 questions related to their views on life and future. The respondents scored an average of 34.8, out of a maximum of 48.

Tse said the score showed their sense of hope was not especially low. But he added that if the survey had covered more of those who rent private flats, the score would have been lower because of unsatisfactory private living conditions in the city for the elderly.

About 70 per cent of the respondents live in public housing and 21 per cent had their own properties.