Building more hospitals is not going to improve health care for the elderly in Hong Kong and officials need to rethink its policies, warns an academic.
Professor Jean Woo, who heads the Chinese University's Jockey Club Institute of Ageing, was speaking after a poll on support the city provides for senior citizens gave hospital services the lowest score, with long waiting times at public hospitals flagged up. The poll, funded by Jockey Club, covered more than 9,500 people – most of whom were aged 50 or above.
Woo said elderly people in Hong Kong who are not rich enough to afford private hospitals have no option but to turn to public facilities.
But community services and hospital care should be separated, she said. The aim should be to provide one-stop, integrated places where they can go instead of turning to hospitals for every health problem.
Woo said other ageing societies like Singapore, Japan and the UK are already talking about services fit for frailty, meaning taking care of those people whose physical and mental strengths are diminishing.
"If you don't look after them, this is what is happening in Hong Kong: they all go to A and E," she said.
Woo told RTHK's Candice Wong that there also has to be a change in the mindset of the elderly.