Measures will better protect well-being of care home residents

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 10:27pm

I refer to the letters by Priscilla Lui (“Vulnerable inmates in Hong Kong care homes need much better protection”, October 31) and Professor Alfred Chan (“Alleged sex assault at home for disabled is a wake-up call”, October 24).

The Hong Kong government attaches great importance to monitoring the service quality of private residential care homes for persons with disabilities. In light of recent events and public feedback, we are planning a package of short-, medium- and long-term measures to better protect the well-being of residents in these homes.

The Social Welfare Department will step up surprise inspections of these homes and take prompt enforcement action where necessary. Retired police officers will be engaged to reinforce the inspection team.

To make the monitoring mechanism more open and transparent, the department plans to make public the warning records of non-compliant homes. We will also extend the Service Quality Group Scheme to cover all private homes. The scheme will enable the public to advise on how best to upgrade their quality.

We will help the homes build district support networks with service units so that cross-sectoral professional support can be provided to residents in need.

The department has commissioned the Hong Kong Productivity Council to launch a training and consultation programme on home management for home operators and managers. We will promote vigorously the “people-oriented” service culture in the rehabilitation sector.

To alleviate the manpower shortage problem in the welfare sector, we will enhance our training and recruitment efforts. We will encourage the younger generation and middle-aged women to join caring work.

In concert with various stakeholders, we will holistically and critically examine the current regulatory and legislative framework to identify the areas for improvement.

Private home places account for only about one-fifth of all residential care places for persons with disabilities. This means that the bulk of the existing 17,000 places are heavily subvented. About 6,000 new subvented places (including 2,500 residential) will come on stream in the next five years. In the slightly longer term, another 8,000 places (with some 2,000 residential) will be provided under the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses. These should cut waiting times for subvented places.

To support those living with their families, we will continue to adopt multi-pronged measures to enhance community care support for them and their carers.

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, secretary for labour and welfare