The population in Hong Kong is ageing rapidly. In a bid to support ageing-in-place for the city’s growing elderly cohort, the Nethersole School of Nursing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong launched a three-year medical-welfare-community-business collaborative project in 2017. The programme aimed to mobilise the public particularly the non-working population, to enhance community care for the elderly and their carers in Fu Shin Estate, Tai Po.
The project has made significant achievements in the past two years. Sixty volunteers were recruited and trained to conduct simple health check for older Hongkongers and provide support to those at risk of repeated hospital admissions. A total of 300 nursing students were paired with 100 elderly people for home visits, to conduct electrocardiogram tests and provide healthy eating and exercise tips to the senior citizens, and also make referrals as needed.
The referral system we have established in partnership with Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital and elderly centres has enabled us to refer older Hongkongers to existing resources in the community, for timely treatment and care. Together, we have also established the Community Nursing Station to provide one-stop services, including health consultation, medication safety and rehabilitative care, with over 300 elderly citizens followed up on so far. According to service users, their need for accident and emergency services was decreased by 30 per cent in the past nine months.
To strengthen carer support, a series of workshops were conducted to empower over 230 carers with the knowledge and skills required to take care of elderly stroke survivors or those with diseases such as dementia or diabetes. Over 80 per cent of the carers who received this training said the workshops enhanced their caring abilities and confidence. Family is the backbone of long-term elderly care and well-prepared family carers play a crucial role in this area.
All these interventions have strengthened community care for elders and their carers, and consequently reduced their dependence on the health care system.
Through this project, the strengths and efforts of community stakeholders have been synergised to support ageing-in-place. We expect its implementation to be extended to help build Hong Kong into an age-friendly city.