SOME of the 17,000 elderly people waiting for places in homes are switching to establishments across the border. There is a shorter wait and better living conditions in some mainland homes, although Hong Kong clients are charged higher fees than locals. Welfare groups have cautiously welcomed the development but warn elderly people against sub-standard private homes. Lo Wai-fun, 79, who moved to a Guangzhou home for the aged - Liwan Yile Garden - last year, said: 'A place in Hong Kong's elderly homes can cost up to $8,000 a month. 'Some homes are really horrible. 'The beds are less than a foot apart. It is more like a concentration camp. There are not enough nurses to look after the elderly.' Ms Lo suffers high blood pressure and was once left unconscious at home for several hours while her children were out at work. Her son-in-law is a container driver travelling between Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong and he visits her a couple of times a week. One of her daughters lives in Guangzhou. The monthly fee for Hong Kong clients at the 140-place Liwan Yile Garden is about $1,800, triple the rate for locals. The fee does not include meals. But it is cheap when compared with Hong Kong charges. Deputy supervisor Su Huizhuang says the home has 15 qualified nurses and doctors. Ms Su said they had plans to accept more clients from Hong Kong because they paid higher fees and this meant there was more money to improve the facilities. Nurse Guo Qianyi, who has led delegations to visit Hong Kong's elderly hostels, said: 'We have the advantage in China because we have more manpower to take care of the clients. 'Doctors can visit the elderly at least two times a day here.' Hong Kong Elderly Rights League spokesman Ng Wai-tung welcomed the move. But he warned that some mainland private homes might not be so well-equipped. A spokesman for the Guangzhou Bureau of Civil Affairs admitted there was no law regulating private homes in Guangzhou. But he said the Government was planning to regulate them. Guangzhou has about 600,000 people aged 60 or above. 'Basically there is no elderly problem here as there is in Hong Kong. We have three public homes for the elderly. 'And two others are in the pipeline,' said the spokesman. In Hong Kong, the Social Welfare Department has admitted failure in meeting the target of providing 5,888 additional residential places for the elderly by 1997. People have to wait for about three years for a place in a government care and attention home, 17 months for an old people's homes, and 16 months for a hostel.