By Mimmy Chow, Emily Wong and Sing Chak Lee
A court case which caused outrage in the city reveals severe problems in the welfare of citizens residing in care homes.
In spite of issues including lack of staff and care, bad hygiene, high charges and even fatal accidents, relatives of the residents say they are unable to leave. Why do these happen?
The portion of citizens with disabilities has risen slightly, to 8% of total citizens in 2013. Specifically, 578,600 citizens are classified as disabled, of which only 40% are receiving care.
Among the 40% who cannot live alone, only 3.5% get professional care services, which explains the high demand for residential care homes in Hong Kong.
Although different types of residential care homes responding to different needs have various degrees of demand, the average waiting time for a place is about 55 months or nearly five years.
In the following map, blue spots indicate government-funded homes, red indicate privately owned and green indicate NGO-run.
Zooming into the map, one can see quite a large number of private homes, not too far behind the dominating government homes, even though the SAR government has already increased its budget on rehabilitation services for 72% since fiscal year 07/08.
People with disabilities who are not referred by an authority have to pay up to five times the fee compared to a non-profit home, without the guarantee of supervision and quality.
From the map, one can also see there is not a strong NGO community for residential services for the disabled.
Although the restrictions on staff-resident ratio has been loosened since 2011, more than 250 homes were still given a Certificate of Exemption rather than official licenses, which indicates complete fulfilment of the new Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance, which took effect in 2013.
The authority in charge, the Social Welfare Department, says they will phase out all such certificates, though whether the deep-rooted demand-supply issue will be resolved is still a question.