承印:觀傳媒集團有限公司   地址:香港灣仔駱克道283號華興商業大廈1001室

Target-based measures will help our elderly

-

Target-based measures will help our elderly

By Chrystie Lam

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is facing a number of livelihood and social issues such as an aging population and the proliferation of single-parent families, new immigrant families and disabled elderly, which pose challenges to the city’s sustainable development and social stability.

In tackling these problems, the government ought to pay special attention to elderly care, which is an indispensable component of the domestic service industry. Domestic service goes beyond a small portion of society; it extends to performing a major livelihood function which in turn has a profound impact on the well-being of the general public.

With an aging population, the employment of foreign domestic helpers has been unable to meet the increasing demand of local families with elderly members for professional household and care services. The future development and planning of the elderly service industry is of utmost importance to the city.

‘Aging in place’
As laid out in the 2022 policy address, the government has set a policy objective of “promoting aging in place (elderly people living in their own home) as the core, with institutional care as back-up”. 

But there has long been an imbalance in the development of the “aging in place” care service and elderly home service in Hong Kong. More often than not, public attention and policy focuses are on elderly homes, despite the severe shortage of institutional places and the indisputable fact that elderly people prefer living in their own home as long as the objective circumstances allow.

Admittedly, the government has proactively promoted and supported the development of the elderly home service industry in recent years, such as by increasing the financial investment and policy support to elderly homes for the enhancement of facilities and service quality. But there are still obvious shortcomings in the elderly home industry, such as the lack of stability in the overall service quality, insufficient facilities, and a shortage of staff, which place elderly welfare in jeopardy. It therefore calls for society to refocus on the “aging in place” industry as it is a fundamental part of elderly care.

Reforming foreign domestic helper regime
Similar to the elderly home service industry, the “aging in place” service industry has all along faced a shortage of manpower and a mismatch in demand and supply. In view of the situation, the government should consider further opening up the market for imported workers to cope with the increasing demand. At the same juncture, the government should categorize foreign domestic helper visas into two types: ordinary foreign domestic helper visas and “aging in place” carer visas, and promote the application of the latter. 

To this end, the government should try to attract foreign workers from diverse national backgrounds to work as carers of elderly people who would be “aging in place”. Introducing various policy measures such as relaxing visa restrictions, providing favorable working conditions and better salary packages, would attract more foreign workers to come to Hong Kong and work in the “aging in place” care sector to relieve the pressure of elderly homes. 

To improve the quality of elderly care services, the government should proactively promote the development of the elderly service industry by providing training, funding and tax incentives among other measures.

In terms of foreign labor training and human resource management, the government can promote the establishment of professional training institutions and courses to improve the skills and service quality of practitioners, and closely monitor the management of foreign workers to ensure that their rights and interests are well protected. Ultimately, it is the elderly people who would benefit from a properly-functioning foreign carer industry.

While the domestic service industry in Hong Kong is well developed, its further development is constrained by various factors, such as the lack of professional training and certification mechanisms, resulting in unstable service quality. In addition, the domestic service industry is also facing challenges such as a manpower shortage and escalating costs.

In order to promote the balanced development of the relevant sectors, the government and all sectors of society should cooperate to implement target-based measures. For example, the authorities should enhance investment and support for the “aging in place” service industry and domestic service industry; establish a comprehensive and fair certification and training mechanism; attract more talents to join the sectors; strengthen the policy support and management of the industry, to name but a few measures. Only with such target-oriented measures could we achieve a balanced development of the domestic service industry and better meet the needs of the elderly and their families.

The domestic service industry should also actively respond to the government’s call to provide professional and empathetic caring services. For example, the industry should promote domestic caring services to elderly people who opt for “aging in place”, and provide training to improve the service skills and quality of workers. Elderly people are entitled to receive needs-based and personalized services in line with their expectations. Having contributed to Hong Kong society for decades, our elderly citizens should be able to enjoy better care and love during the latter years of their life.

Letting elderly “enjoy their golden years” is more than a slogan. It’s a common goal of our society that relies on the joint efforts of all sectors to promote the development of the elderly service industry and create a more comfortable environment for the elderly. 

Chrystie Lam Haa-iu is director of labor and welfare affairs, Chinese Dream Think Tank, and founder of the Coalition of Global Home Service Sustainable Development.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Chinese Dream Think Tank is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organization working with skilled volunteers, experts and professionals who are passionate about telling the China story well.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

中國夢智庫|香港面對老齡化社會的嚴峻挑戰 

香港特區面對高顯著的老齡化社會、單親家庭、移民家庭、失能老人等多元民生問題,對香港社會帶來了不少挑戰。

安老事務是香港特區政府高度關注的重點領域,也是家政服務行業的重要組成部分,家政服務不僅是小切口,也是大民生,是關乎市民生活品質和幸福感的重要行業,是事關民生福祉的重要領域。

隨著人口老齡化的加劇,聘請外籍家庭傭工已未能滿足老齡化家庭的專業需要,安老服務業的未來發展和規劃是極為重要。

本港院舍安老服務業、居家安老服務業長期存在發展不衡的情況。特區政府近年來雖積極推動和支持安老服務業的發展,加大對院舍安老服務設施和服務質量的投入和支援,然而,整體安老服務業仍存在一些不足之處,如服務質量不穩定、服務設施不足、人力資源缺乏等問題。

香港院舍安老服務業與居家安老服務業一樣,長期面臨人力短缺和供需矛盾。鑒於這一情況,政府應考慮打開外勞輸入,來緩解院舍安老服務業的人力短缺問題。同時,政府應把外籍家庭傭工簽證類別分項為外籍居家安老員簽證及外籍家庭傭工簽證兩類,以提升居家安老員資歷水平和工作條份。

政府可以採取措施吸引更多國家的外籍勞工來港從事院舍安老服務工作,例如:菲律賓、印尼、斯里蘭卡、緬甸等,通過放寬簽證限制、提供更加優惠的工作條件和薪酬待遇等方式來吸引更多的外籍人才到港從事院舍安老服務工作。

在安老服務質量方面,建議特區政府積極推動服務業界的發展,例如提供職能培訓、資金和稅務優惠等。在外籍勞工培訓和人力資源管理方面,特區政府可以提供專業的培訓機構和課程,以提高從業員的專業技能和服務質量,並加強對外籍勞工的管理,確保外籍勞工的合法權益得到保障,同時也保障長者和家庭的權益和服務質量。

另一方面,雖然本港家政服務業發展成熟,但這個行業的發展受到了多種因素的制約,如缺乏專業的培訓和認證機制、服務質量參差不齊等問題。此外,家政服務業也面臨著人力短缺、服務價格偏高等問題。

為了促進相關行業的平衡發展,政府和社會各界需要採取有針對性的措施。例如,加強對居家安老服務業和家政服務業的投入和支持、建立更加完善公平的認證制度和培訓機制、吸引更多的人才從事這些行業、加強對行業的支援和管理等等。只有這樣,才能夠實現家政服務行業的均衡發展,更好地滿足老年人和家庭的需求

同時,家政服務行業也應積極響應政府的號召,提供更加專業和貼心的安老服務。例如,提供居家護理服務、專業的照顧老人技巧培訓等,為老年人提供更有針對性、個性化的服務,滿足老年人和家庭的需求和期望,讓他們在晚年得到更好的照顧和關愛。

「安享晚年」有賴社會各界共同努力,攜手推動安老服務行業的發展,為老年人創造更加和諧、溫馨的社會環境。

文:林夏瑤
《中國夢智庫》勞工及福利事務總監
國際家政服務業持續發展聯會創辦人

文:丁煌
深圳大學基本法研究中心兼職研究員
經民聯港島支部主席,「中國夢智庫」主席
國際公益法律服務協會顧問委員會成員
全國港澳研究會會員

《中國夢智庫》是一間扎根特區的非牟利團體;與心存熱誠的資深義工、專家與職業專業人士們合作,攜手「說好中國故事」。

*作者文章觀點,不代表《觀新聞》立場