HOPE worldwide (HWW) has been a chartered charity organization in Hong Kong since 1993, with its focus on organizing service programmes in China and Hong Kong. Volunteers for Seniors Day (formerly Hope for Seniors Day) is one of the many programmes initiated by HWW to meet the urgent needs of the growing ageing population in Hong Kong. Starting in 1996, volunteers from corporations and social organizations have been recruited for Volunteers for Seniors Days on an annual basis. Since 2000, the programme has been jointly organized with the Housing Authority to provide cleaning and painting services to single elderly tenants living in public housing estates. It also helps to build relationships between the volunteers and the elderly people in the community. Over the past nine years, the programme has served over 5,300 single elderly people and mobilized more than 20,000 volunteers to participate.
In the survey conducted by HWW during Volunteers for Seniors Day 2004, we found that there were up to 40.1% and 49.6% of the single elderly living in public housing estates suffering from various kinds of eye diseases and poor eyesight respectively. The prevalence of eye diseases and poor eyesight would result in a high percentage of falls and thereby affect their functional activities of daily living (ADL). In fact, most of the eye diseases are curable with early detection and treatment, and elderly people with poor eyesight may need minor home adaptation e.g. handrails or night lights to prevent home accidents. According to a study by the Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology of Chinese University, exercise is important to the elderly and can strengthen their low-limb and upper-limb muscles, which in turn prevents falls at home or on the street.
Due to the above findings, HWW cooperated with Housing Authority to initiate a pilot programme to help identify the eye diseases as well as provide public health education to the elderly in 30 public estates in the second half of 2004. Health care professionals provided training to 150 volunteers on eye care knowledge and simple eye screening tests that could be carried out in road shows in shopping arcades of public housing estates. In addition, experienced ophthalmologists or optometrists were present to answer elderly participants’ inquiries on eye health and delivered health information during the kick-off ceremony and road shows in the shopping arcades. The programme had the following objectives:
- To enhance the awareness of eye health and eye diseases of the elderly through 30 public eye screenings at public housing arcades;
- To carry out a survey on the visual conditions of elderly living in public housing; and
- To foster partnership between government, NGO and business sectors in promoting the health of the elderly in the community.
Chan, C. M. A., Fong, M. S. F., Wong, H. Y. E., & Au-Yeung, K. Y. K. (2005). A report on an exploratory study on visual conditions of older people living in public housing (APIAS Monograph Paper Series No.10). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: http://commons.ln.edu.hk/apiasmp/4