Sixteen new elderly homes will launch next year
Hong Kong will have 16 new elderly homes providing a total of 2,800 beds for seniors next year, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said.
Over the past four years, the number of subsidized elderly home beds has increased from 27,000 to 32,000, a rise of 17 percent, he said.
On his online blog on Sunday, Law wrote that the authorities will use the lotteries fund to build 16 subsidized elderly care homes next year, providing 2,801 beds.
Six of them are under the Housing Authority’s Subsidised Sale Flats Project, five converted from existing facilities by non-government organizations, three under private property developers’ residential projects and the remaining two are under the Architectural Services Department’s multi-purpose public facility projects, he said.
“[The government] has said in the 2020 policy address that a total 5 percent of the gross floor area in future public housing projects should be reserved for welfare purposes on the premise that the number of flats will not be affected,” Law said.
“Of course, there are various kinds of welfare facilities, but elderly homes are the most important because of the ageing population in the SAR,” he added.
Law said the minimum area of floor space for each elderly resident is 6.5 square meters, and added that it’s difficult to improve that due to the increasing land rent in Hong Kong.
“For example, if the rent is HK$400 per sq m, the rent for each 6.5 sq m space would be HK$2,600. If the minimum area of floor space is raised to 9.5 sq m, it will then cost HK$3,800. Together with other costs including labor, food and electricity, it will be difficult for private homes to operate,” he said.
But the Social Welfare Department has purchased places from private homes under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme in order to improve the service at elderly homes, including increasing the minimum space for residents at care and attention homes to 9.5 sq m, Law said.
The government will set up a timetable for the closure of substandard homes, he added, and private operators are all aware that it will amend the law to increase the minimum space for each resident.