Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15
Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.
(Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)
CAREREPS, is a platform created by 13 local organizations, which is platform dedicated to delivering essential support services to caregivers. Its primary mission is to elevate awareness, recognition, and respect for these incredible individuals within our community. Through a comprehensive range of offerings such as service information, exclusive shop discounts, and valuable services, CAREREPS is actively working towards the construction of a warm and welcoming caregiver-friendly community, that involves diverse stakeholders.
We believe care givers are playing an essential role in providing care to their loved ones. Their selfless dedication benefits not only the individuals, but also to the community. These caregivers invest countless hours and immeasurable effort in tending to the needs of others.
à Statistics from the 2020 Census further emphasize to their contributions. It refers that over 1- million individuals with disabilities and chronic disease are being cared for within our communities, and around 44% of them requiring the assistance of another person for their day-to-day needs.
àThese figures serve as a powerful data which reflected the responsibility shouldered by caregivers and underscore the vital role they play in upholding the well-being of those in care.
Nevertheless, caregivers often find themselves feeling too stressful for balancing different roles. They usually have to fulfill multiple commitments. From work obligations, to caring for their own families and shouldering their caregiving responsibilities. Unfortunately, this constant juggling can lead to burnout, leaving them physically and emotionally drained.
Besides, witness their loved ones' suffering or decline can also be very stressful for caregivers.
In a survey conducted by HKU in 2018, concerning caregivers of the elderly, 25% of respondents reported being at "high risk" for experiencing physical and mental issues due to the overwhelming burden of caregiving. These dedicated individuals faced challenges, like symptoms of depression and strained family relationships.
The findings of this survey shows the weight of their responsibilities and the demanding nature of their role, can lead to mental health struggles, including depression. Additionally, the strain of caregiving can impact family dynamics. Such insights highlight the urgent need for support systems and resources to aid caregivers in navigating these difficulties. Recognizing the potential risks and challenges they face is vital in ensuring their well-being and fostering a healthier caregiving environments.
The aging population in Hong Kong has led to an increased demand for community caregiving. However, caregivers often face several challenges in meeting these demands.
First, there is a significant lack of affordable and easily accessible community support services in HK. Hong Kong is famous for our lengthy waiting lists for services catering to the elderly and individuals with disabilities, such as day care, respite care, and meal delivery.
Furthermore, the situation is similarly challenging in child care services. With only 908 subsidized childcare centers available, the number falls significantly short when compared to the over 220,000 children aged 0-4 in Hong Kong as of the end of 2021. It's no surprise that these centers operate at full capacity, resulting in a severe shortage of community-based child care services.
Furthermore, care givers often face a significant lack of appreciation within the community, particularly in Chinese society. In this cultural context, the responsibility of caring for one's spouse and parents is often perceived as a duty, rather than something deserving of recognition or appreciation. As a result, care givers find themselves lack of understanding and acceptance.
Providing support to care givers is essential for their own physical and mental well-being, which, in turn, enables them to continue delivering exceptional care.
Recent news reports of care givers experiencing burnout and even expressing thoughts of suicide have deeply saddened us all. By prioritizing the support of care givers, we can help prevent such distressing outcomes. nurturing their mental well-being, providing them with the resources and assistance necessary to cope with the emotional challenges that arise from their caregiving pathway.
Furthermore, relieving financial stress can enhance employment engagement, leading to increased workforce participation. We firmly advocate for prioritizing the needs of deprived care givers and providing them with special considerations.
We believe that supporting care givers is a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders. CAREREPS has put forward a few feasible suggestions to promote this cause:
Firstly, we propose the introduction of a government-recognized "Carer Easy Access Card." This card is now provided to our members who have joined the EPS. The purpose of this card is to enhance the identification of care givers. It would serve as a tool for identifying care givers in various situations, such as facilitating emergency responses. Additionally, it would provide access to essential information about the care giver, ensuring streamlined and efficient care provision.
Building upon this point, we strongly advocate for the inclusion of carer identity within the Electronic Health Record System. By incorporating carer identification into the healthcare system, healthcare providers would be better equipped to recognize and address the unique needs of care givers, particularly those at high risk. This integration would enable early intervention and support, ensuring that care givers receive the assistance they require in a timely manner.
Secondly, we recommend to strengthen the inter-sector collaboration. Supporting care givers not only by social service setting, which should involve healthcare, schools and families. The government should take lead to build up platforms for information exchanges, such as regular meetings and communication channels
Lastly, it is important to recognize that the needs of care givers are diverse. Establishing an effective communication and referral system within a community-based mechanism is crucial. This collaborative approach ensures that the needs of care givers are adequately addressed and that community support is appropriately and promptly matched. By implementing such a system, we can enhance the overall support and assistance available to care givers, fostering a more responsive and inclusive caregiving environment.
Currently, our platform operates on a voluntary basis with limited resources, as we are supported by 13 organizations as mentioned. We are actively seeking financial support to ensure the stability and sustainability of our platform.
Given the voluntary nature of our platform, developing a comprehensive network has been challenging. Nevertheless, we firmly believe in the importance of engaging key stakeholders, including the government, additional NGOs, healthcare providers, and partners from the business sector. We are actively working towards establishing partnerships with these stakeholders.
In conclusion, we hope that the government will consider these proposals. By doing so, we can collectively build a carer-friendly community, where the needs of care givers are met, and support is readily available.