Hong Kong is facing an ageing population, and it is forecast that almost one in three people will be elderly by 2040.
In view of this trend, the Club’s Charities Trust launched the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project in 2015 in eight pilot districts, to enhance local elderly people’s quality of life. A total of 39 community-level programmmes have been rolled out so far, directly benefiting over 38,000 people. The project has been extended to all 18 districts of Hong Kong in 2017, with cumulative Trust funding to date of over HK$190 million.
Under the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project, baseline research in eight key domains defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is being conducted by four of Hong Kong’s gerontology research institutes to assess the current level of age-friendliness in society and identify appropriate directions of action.
On 22 March, the project team announced the latest results of this research. More than 9,500 respondents and 91 focus groups with over 700 members have taken part in the age-friendliness surveys, of whom about 87% were 50 years old or above. The three key domains given the lowest score were community support and health services (3.67 out of a possible 6), housing (3.71) and civic participation and employment (3.87).
The research team concluded that the low score attributed to the Community Support & Health Services domain was the result of non-user-friendly services such as long waiting hours for medical support and inadequate service information.
In terms of housing, some elderly people encountered difficulties when seeking help with flat maintenance, for example the unaffordable costs and a lack of related information, which led to the low score in this domain.
With regard to the Civic Participation & Employment domain, the research revealed insufficient job opportunities for the elderly; the more educated the interviewee, the lower score given in this category.
In addition, despite the Social Participation domain earning the highest score (4.29) in the research, it was found that those respondents who did not visit elderly centres tended to award a lower score, commenting that there was a lack of social activities and venues or outdoor space for activities.
The research team suggested four directions of action to enhance local age-friendliness, namely the provision of a more age-friendly living environment to raise the elderly’s quality of life; creating more suitable job and volunteering opportunities for the elderly; offering a range of activities based on the varied interests and needs of the elderly; and collaborating with different stakeholders including the Government and business sectors to promote an age-friendly atmosphere.
Based on the results of the baseline research, the project team has developed three-year action plans for each district in collaboration with the District Councils, so as to enhance the age-friendliness of these districts. More than 950 Age-friendly Ambassadors have also been recruited from all districts of the city and age-friendliness messages delivered to citizens through various activities.
A year-long programme, the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Partnership Scheme, will be launched soon to engage different stakeholders, including business community and the public sector, in adopting age-friendly practices in Hong Kong.
Please visit http://www.jcafc.hk/ for more information.