#Hashtag Hong Kong



    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)



    Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services

    Hi everyone I am Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services. Today I am with my guide dog Happy.


    Visually impaired people face many challenges in life, especially when we go out and about. With the introduction of guide dogs, they have transformed our lives altogether. They guide us through busy streets and roads and take us to our destinations safely. Along with their arrival we face a form of challenge – public acceptance and respect. Although things have moved on and improved over the years, we still face challenges and discrimination going into public areas, most common are restaurants, hotels, taxis and shopping malls and even parks. Many still don’t know that guide dogs are allowed in public places.  

    I have personally faced restaurants that reluctantly let us in but try to shoot us in a dark corner, or allow us to sit outside. Some people on public transports are alarmed to see us, sometimes we hear unfriendly comments such as “How can you bring such a big dog on the train! Why is your dog not wearing a mouth harness?  What if it bites someone?”.

    The Equal Opportunities Commission recently issued “Guide Dogs: A Practical Guide”, which offers guide dog users and their guide dogs protection in settings such as the restaurants, in hotels, in taxis and public transport, public management places as well as in the workplace. Visually impaired people should be treated like regular patrons in these places. 

    So, what needs to be done after issue of this ‘Practical Guide?’ Public awareness and education.  

    Authorities may action publicity campaigns such as:  recording clips on radio so taxi drivers can get the messages, short ads so they can be screened on buses or trains, posters and signs at bus stops, MTR stations, markets, and other public areas, places where the public go about their daily business. Letting people know that guide dogs are allowed in all public areas.  They are clean, obedient and calm and they do not bite. 

    The government should be the front driver of this – displaying clips and signs at their own offices such as tax offices,  immigration, clinics and hospitals, displaying these signs at places where people have to wait to be seen to, you’ll be amazed how effective this can be. 

    The Equal Opportunities Commission can follow up after issue of the guide by visiting trade associations, the restaurateurs, traffic, taxis, property management sectors to encourage them to train front line staff. Our guide dog school conducts around 100 sessions of presentations and education to school children, day centres, to companies and their HR departments, encouraging them to train their staff as well. 

    That’s the social aspect of awareness.  What about practical needs? 

    This is a new issue, previously not realized. To date the first batch of guide dogs and nearing the end of their working lives, some have already retired and a few have passed away in recent years. Just like humans, guide dogs get old, and inevitably as they age, they need more medical care, they need more tests, supplementary foods, scans and even operations if needed.  Our guide dog schools as you know stay afloat by generous funds by stakeholders and other organisations.  So there is very little funding for guide dogs users to look after their dog as they age. I myself have been exactly impacted by this recently, when Happy had to undergo emergency operation.  Veterinary fees are very expensive.

    Going forward, we would like to see government departments or organizations seriously look into our ‘practical needs’. Some form of subsidy or financial assistance when situations like this happen. As we accept guide dogs as working partners, surely they should have the same admiration and respect as they are also working members of our society. 

    Please remember when you see a guide dog, observe the 3 Don’t and 1 Do rule:

    1. Do not disturb or touch.

    2. Do not feed.

    3. Do not discriminate.

    1 Do – if you see a visually impaired looking lost, go up to them and ask how you may help? Accept guide dogs and their partners as normal citizens in our inclusive society. We Never Walk alone!

    Finally I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone as well as my father who died recently. It's by Gerry and the Pacemaker and it’s called ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. 


    26/05/2024 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    26/05/2024 - Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services


    03 - 05


    Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services


    Dr Joey Chan, Secretary of the Hong Kong Society of Sleep Medicine and CUHK Associate Professor (Clinical) Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK


    Dr. Anthony Ying, the Chairman of the Cancer Prevention/Early Detection Subcommittee of the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society


    iu Vor, Vice President of Hong Kong Entomological Society


    Faride Shroff, the Founder and CEO of SENsational Foundation


    Simon Wong, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades


    Ryan Yeung, Founder and CEO, Happy-Retired Charity Action


    Erica Lee, Director, The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association

    Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service


    As the population ages, more people find caring for their elderly loved ones falling on their shoulders.  While the population of Hong Kong increased only by 5% between 2011 and 2021, the population of centenarians, people aged 100 or more, increased by more than 6 folds.


    In light of the rapid increase in the population of adults of advanced age, say nonagenarians and centenarians, in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Shue Yan University, The Hong Kong Council of Social Service recently conducted the second round of the Hong Kong Centenarian Study (with the first round taking place in 2011) with 151 families and found that most caregivers of centenarians are their children, with many of them being between 65-74 years old (43%). 


    This phenomenon of “the elderly caring for even older seniors” is common in Hong Kong.  It poses significant challenges, including physical fatigue, emotional stress, social isolation, and financial burden, adversely impacting caregivers’ health and well-being.


    The biggest challenge faced by elderly caregivers is physical and mental fatigue.  Caring for a loved one requires a lot of strength and energy, which can be even more taxing for elderly caregivers with health issues.  They may have to frequently lift or support a frail loved one, provide assistance in daily living, and perform other tasks that can strain their bodies continually.


    Emotional stress is another challenge, particularly when caring involves complex or arduous needs.  For example, tending to a loved one with dementia or other cognitive impairments requires infinite patience and constant attention, which can be frustrating and overwhelming. Many caregivers wish to see their older loved ones through and are motivated to provide as much care to their older relatives as possible. Despite such high motivation to care, their strains may elevate to a point where their mental and physical health is compromised, which is when nursing home placements are considered.


    Caregivers may also feel isolated and burnt out, as they often have to sacrifice socialising with friends and family or their interests.  This can spiral into depression and anxiety, further exacerbating their struggles.


    The financial burden is another challenge that elderly caregivers may grapple with, especially those who are retired and living on a fixed income.  In other words, their financial resources, whether from their own children or governmental subsidies, are often shared with their older loved ones. The study mentioned above showed that 83.2% of caregivers had a monthly income below $30,000, and 70.5% of respondents earned below the poverty line of $20,000 for a 4-person household (CSD, 2020).  48.3% of caregivers expressed financial pressure.


    So, what can be done to aid elderly caregivers facing these problems? Here are a few suggestions:


    1)            Seeking out community resources, including respite care, support groups, and counselling services.  Elderly caregivers should also reach out to family and friends for help, as small gestures can make a big difference.


    2)            It is also essential for caregivers to prioritise their health and well-being by taking time for themselves, pursuing hobbies and interests, or getting mental health support when needed.  Caregivers who look after themselves are better equipped to watch over their loved ones in the long run.


    3)            Sometimes, it may be necessary to hire a professional caregiver to assist with the needs of a loved one.  With the advance in technology, some products help, such as fall prevention equipment and health-monitoring smart devices. Caregiver subsidies or financial subsidies for using Gerontechnology in the community would help.


    Taking care of an elderly loved one can be arduous and emotionally draining, particularly for caregivers themselves, seniors.  By seeking out available resources, asking for help from family and friends, being mindful of self-care, and appraising professional assistance, elderly caregivers can get the support they need to navigate the challenges and provide the best care possible for their loved ones.


    And now I have a song I'd like to dedicate to all of you listening. My song is: You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King



    04/06/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    04/06/2023 - Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service