"Promoting public health policy to let the elderly enjoy a quality life" (2021/07/21)

"Promoting public health policy to let the elderly enjoy a quality life" (2021/07/21)

MR YIU SI-WING (in Cantonese):

Deputy President, according to the projection of the Census and Statistics Department, the proportion of people aged 65 and above in the population is now close to 20%. It is an indisputable fact that the population of Hong Kong is ageing. For this reason, the Government has the responsibility to put in more resources to ensure a quality life for the elderly in their twilight years. In general, there are three types of living arrangements for the elderly: ageing in place, ageing in institutions and ageing in place in the community. Ageing in place means living at home and relying on care from family members or practicing self-care. Ageing in institutions means living in an elderly home. Ageing in place in the community means relying on community care during the day and returning to live at home at night. Although the Government has put a lot of resources in building elderly homes, elderly day care centres, etc., in recent years, it has only addressed the basic demand for facilities and there is still quite a long way to go to fulfil the needs for high-quality elderly life. Mr CHAN Kin-por has suggested that the Government should provide more sports facilities and create an environment for a healthy lifestyle so as encourage the elderly to do more exercise. In addition to that, I consider it equally important to leverage the existing hardware and software in the community to add different services and provide more incentives, so as to encourage the elderly to make use of community facilities to broaden their social circles.


Deputy President, under normal circumstances, most elderly people who can take care of themselves would like to age in place so that they can enjoy a free and comfortable life in their twilight years. Of course, while ageing in place, the elderly also need to expand their social space and participate in different kinds of group activities to balance their body and mind as a prerequisite to slowing down their ageing process. At present, all districts of Hong Kong are provided with various recreational and sports facilities, including parks, municipal complexes, sports venues, swimming pools and libraries. In addition, there are about 70 community halls and 37 community centres throughout the territory. Unlike festive days, the usage rate of the aforesaid facilities is not too high on weekdays. In particular, the average usage rate of community halls and community centres is only around 60% to 70%. In my view, the Government should find ways to enhance their functions, provide more elderly services and encourage the elderly to participate in different activities in the community so as to reduce their sense of loneliness.


The first recommendation is to provide dedicated community canteens for the elderly. The most frequent need of the day for the elderly is a meal. Due to their physical limitations, they do not eat much, so cooking their own meals is a great burden in their life. Many cities in the Mainland have actually set up government-subsidized community canteens that serve mainly the elderly. These canteens charge prices far lower than the market ones and even provide low-sugar and low-salt dishes for the elderly with chronic diseases or special dietary needs. In fact, the Government may, drawing on such practices, work with charities to identify suitable community centres in the 18 districts to set up canteens for the elderly and provide meal delivery services for the elderly who have difficulty in travelling.


The second recommendation is to provide more activities in different forms for the elderly. Apart from the general existing interest classes in dancing, gymnastics, photography, calligraphy, and so on, and in order to enhance the elderly people's healthcare knowledge, the Government may consider making mobile dieticians, Chinese medicine practitioners and family doctors available in the community on a regular basis for basic health assessments and organize talks on healthcare and disease prevention for the elderly. If they are widely available in all districts, the pressure on the healthcare system can be reduced. As for fees and charges, the Government may follow the practice of the current means test for Old Age Living Allowance, so that the financially stretched elderly people can pay lower costs, or even enjoy the services free of charge if they have special difficulties. At present, the non-profit organizations and charities have already had many successful experiences. As long as the Government has the determination, does good planning and increases its commitments, it should not be too difficult to promote the reintegration of the elderly into society.


Deputy President, with these remarks, I support Mr CHAN Kin-por's motion.