Professor Joe Leung Cho Bun
Professor, Department of Social Work and Social
Despite popular criticisms that Hong Kong lacks a social insurance-based pension system for the aged and old age poverty is critical, the government has offered a multi-level social protection system for the elderly. Around 70% of the older people aged over 65 receive social security allowances from the government. In long-term care, the government provides heavily subsidised institutional and community-based care. Yet the current model is not sustainable, as it is not meanstested. More importantly, the care market is highly polarized. Based on assessment of social needs, older people have to wait for several years before they can be admitted into institutional care provided by NGOs, as the waiting list is long. On the other hand, the private market is either of poor quality or charges high fees. As a result, both the middle-income and grassroots older people are both competing for government-subsidized residential places. Even though the institutionalisation rate is around 8%, which can be regarded as high by international standard, there are still popular demands for more residential places. As the ageing process in Hong Kong will become more critical in the coming decades, simply building more homes for the aged is not a sustainable and effective solution. Strengthening community care through building neighbourhood-based social capital is most urgent. We have to recognize that moving into institutional care is the last resort. By supporting family and communitybased care, older people with less functional and physical disabilities can remain living in the community. On the preventive perspective, promoting active ageing is pivotal. Older people should be encouraged to remain active in employment, volunteering, learning and social life. The society should provide a more age-friendly environment for the older people, without discrimination. Finally, younger people should learn to prepare for their old age in terms of income security, good health, and quality of life.