Tens of thousands of elderly people will miss out on care home places because only frail applicants will be admitted under a plan endorsed yesterday. The elderly who can manage their daily lives would have to live alone in public housing or with their families, with support services provided by the Government. Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Elderly Commission which endorsed the plan, said the move was to encourage more elderly people to live with their families. 'We agree that it will be better for the elderly to remain in their own community and stay with their families if they are able to take basic care of themselves. 'We are not trying to tighten the admission criteria because of limited resources. We just want to find out the most suitable method for the elderly.' Mr Tam said research showed that about 80 to 90 per cent of the elderly surveyed preferred living at home while two-thirds of the families were willing to take care of their elderly members. Under the plan, factors including whether the elderly relative could dress or eat by themselves would be assessed. Those already with places would not be affected. But social worker Ng Wai-tung, of the Society for Community Organisations, was concerned that the move would deprive many elderly people of the right to a care home place. At present, about 20,000 elderly are awaiting places, with an average waiting time of 28 months. Another 6,000 are waiting for a place in homes without special health care. Mr Ng said the commission should work out a solution by increasing supply but not restricting admission criteria. Lee Kar-mut, of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, said he supported the policy in principle because many elderly people preferred staying with their families. 'But it should not start until home-help and community support services can meet the demand, and the criteria for admission should not be set too high that those with genuine needs would be cut out,' he said.