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Operation Santa Claus

Hong Kong charity’s home-based services help elderly and disabled take care of themselves

Rehabaid Society provides free home safety assessment, mobility training and rehabilitation support for those in need

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 1:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 12:08pm

With some help, former cabby Tse Woon-ming, who suffered a stroke three years ago that left him confined to a wheelchair, is able to get to his feet. By holding on to somebody and using a quad walking stick, the 66-year-old can also walk slowly.

Tse said he was making good progress and that he believed he was firmly on the road to recovery.

“I could move my left leg but couldn’t walk back then,” he said, recalling the days after the stroke.

Tse is one of many elderly people who benefit from Rehabaid Society’s “Healthy Ageing In Place” rehabilitation programme.

The charitable organisation provides the service with funding from Operation Santa Claus, an annual donation drive organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Starving stroke patient can swallow again after neck massage from charity’s therapist

The programme offers free home safety assessment, functional mobility training and rehabilitation support to the elderly and to people with disabilities currently living at home.

The society’s occupational therapists and physiotherapists provide tailor-made health improvement plans to enhance participants’ safety at home and help them live independently in the community.

In Tse’s case, occupational therapists visit him at home every month, giving him advice on how to do exercises and take care of himself. The home-based service spares Tse the trouble of travelling to the society’s centre. The therapists also provide support for carers.

Dr Cecilia Lam Shiu-ling, chief executive officer of the society, said Rehabaid seeks to identify potential physical and mental health problems common to elderly people.

She added that many older Hongkongers needed help.

“I personally have visited many people who are living in public housing estates. They really cannot afford to go to any private service,” Lam said.

Long waiting times also deterred the elderly from using services in the public hospital system, she said.

“We aim to give them hope and the support they need.”

Think outside the box to provide care for the elderly

The society’s operations are supported by donations, as it ceased to receive funding from the Hospital Authority last year.

“In order to run a free service for the people who are in need, we do need a lot of support from donors,” Lam said.

The veteran therapist said she was delighted that the programme had made a difference.

She said satisfaction in her career came from seeing these elderly people recover and emerge from depression.