Elderly people discharged from hospitals will get better medical follow-ups at home under a new project of the Hospital Authority's Kowloon Central Cluster. The four public hospitals in the cluster will launch the Elderly at Home programme next month, which aims to help patients who have been repeatedly admitted to the hospitals and are at a higher risk of further admissions or visits to the emergency rooms. The cluster's chief executive, Hung Chi-tim, said an information system had been set up to identify elderly patients at risk and that five nurses would be dedicated to run the programme. The nurses will call the patients to check their conditions and whether they are taking their medication properly. Patients with questions can call a hotline seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Dr Hung said: 'The nurses will help the patients arrange early follow-up appointments at the outpatient clinics so they will not readily go to the accident and emergency departments and be admitted.' The nurses will also co-operate with welfare groups to improve the living environment of elderly people who have fallen frequently. The hospitals expect 2,000 to 2,500 patients with records of frequent admissions can be served a year. They hope to reduce the elderly admission rate and emergency room attendance 15 per cent and the number of bed days 20 per cent. There are about 20,000 admissions of people aged 65 and over in the cluster every year. Half of the people lived at home. Dr Hung said: 'The occupancy rate of the beds in the public hospitals is very high. We hope to utilise the emergency services better and leave more beds to those who are in greater need.' He said that as the population aged, hospitals had to strengthen services for the elderly. In 2005-06, people 65 and older accounted for 47.6 per cent of bed days in the cluster's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In 1995-96 they accounted for only 36 per cent. In addition, a diabetes mellitus complication screening programme will start later this year for all 13,000 diabetes patients in the cluster. The outpatient clinics will arrange check-ups for them every two years in the hope of detecting any complications and treating them earlier. Complications include heart diseases, cataracts, and other eye and foot problems. To better take care of the terminally ill, Buddhist Hospital, which is also in the cluster, will increase the number of beds for palliative care from 15 to 65 next month, serving about 1,500 patients a year.