With funding support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (APIAS) of Lingnan University collaborated with Tuen Tsz Wai San Hing Tsuen Tsing Chuen Wai Rural Community Service Centre of Yan Oi Tong and Ngau Tam Mei Community Development Project of the Salvation Army to launch the first batch of professional support team-led (PST) district-based programme: Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project – Rural Neighbourhood Development Project (the programme) in April 2018. The programme provided training to residents in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long rural areas to be Rural Befrienders, they were well-equipped with skills to regularly visit older persons residing in nearby areas, raise awareness among the older persons about home safety and fall prevention, and foster connection between the older persons and Rural Befrienders as well as their neighbourship by establishing a support network in rural areas. The programme also invited an occupational therapist to do home assessments and make changes to the older persons’ living environment in order to achieve the long-term goal of ageing in place.
Ageing in place is considered to be a critical global approach to caring for older persons. The framework promotes an agenda that support older persons to live in a familiar environment and enjoy added autonomy, which is beneficial to their physical and mental health. Hong Kong Government has also embraced the concept of ageing in place in the elderly care policy. Accordingly, the government recently initiated different programmes for Community Care and Support Services to facilitate ageing in place by engaging older persons in their communities. However, the current social environment can barely keep pace with the needs of the rapidly ageing population. According to the results of the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project baseline assessment conducted in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long Districts, older persons in rural Hong Kong tend to be overly disadvantaged as regards community support services when compared with those in urban areas, leaving many of them with no choice but to settle in elderly homes once having mobility decline.
Given this context, the programme generated social capital by consolidating the mutual support network in rural neighbourhoods in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long Districts, in response to the needs of older persons. The programme lasted for over 10 months, and more than 50 trained Rural Befrienders participated in volunteer service with over 100 elderly beneficiaries. The programme enhanced public awareness of the living conditions of older persons in the rural communities through public education activities, such as street exhibitions and the production of Age-friendly City Teaching Kit.
Study Funded By
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust
(Part of the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project)
Contributors of Report
Ka Ho MOK
Wai Tak SZE
Cheuk Man LEUNG
Padmore Adusei AMOAH
Chak Kwan CHAN
Lai Wah LI
Asia Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (2019). A preliminary report on the Rural Neighbourhood Development Project in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long: Implementation and achievement. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/apias_research/15/