Date
30 March 2017
The government subsidizes intensive care nursing homes for the elderly but the supply of beds is not catching up with demand. Photo: HKEJ
The government subsidizes intensive care nursing homes for the elderly but the supply of beds is not catching up with demand. Photo: HKEJ

Thousands of seniors die before being assigned to care homes

Thousands of elderly people die before they could be given a place in care homes.

In 2015, a total of 5,881 seniors passed away without being assigned to an elderly facility, up 18 percent from 2011, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing a Legislative Council publication.

The 2015 figure is a record high for the past five years.

In 2016, Hong Kong had 1.17 million people aged 65 or above, of whom 77 percent lived with their families. About 14 percent lived alone and 8 percent lived in residential care homes for the elderly.

About 73,600 bed spaces were available for elderly care services last year, down by 2,200 in the 2011-2012 financial year, or a 3 percent decrease, while the number of seniors went up by 24 percent during the corresponding period.

According to government statistics, the waiting time for a government Care and Attention Homes bed space dropped by an average of 10 months to 26 months between 2011 and 2015, Sing Tao Daily reports.

However, those applying for a bed space in the same district where their family members live have to wait up to five years.

While the government subsidizes intensive care nursing homes at HK$21,400 per bed space a month, the supply of beds is not catching up with demand.

There were 3,610 available beds last year but there were 6,113 people on the waiting list, 69 percent more than the supply.

Chan Shun-yi, a spokesperson for the Anti-Residential Care Service Voucher group, said the government’s figures were based on applications with no geographical preferences.

Applicants who prefer to be near family members usually wait four to five years, which is way longer than the suggested average waiting time.

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