Looking at old age from new angles

Local | 11 Oct 2018 7:00 am

The Centre for Ageing and Healthcare Management Research (CAHMR) will open in early 2019 in PolyU West Kowloon Campus, offer pioneering and comprehensive solutions to Hong Kong’s ageing population issues.

No place on earth beats Hong Kong on long life expectancy, but this phenomenon comes at the expense of an ageing population and a declining labour force that strain the territory’s public health service, long term care, and even tax revenue.

Hong Kong’s elderly has one of the highest institutionalized rates in the world. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for them to wait for two long years before they can see an orthopaedic surgeon or psychiatrist in public hospitals. But Hong Kong’s public health spending has increased almost five-fold since 1990 while the number of hospital beds is comparable to that of developed countries. So what has gone wrong with our health system? What needs to be done?

A holistic and innovative approach is clearly needed, which is one of the reasons for the PolyU-affiliated School of Professional Education and Executive Development (PolyU SPEED) to establish the Centre for Ageing and Healthcare Management Research (CAHMR).

CAHMR has received a funding of HKD 2.45 million from the University Grants Committee, and is set to be a leading multidisciplinary research institute for ageing and related healthcare management research. "We aim to transform existing policies and systems that are fundamentally misaligned with population trends,” explains Prof. Peter Yuen, Dean of CPCE.

Its research programme will address current issues such as over-reliance on public health care; a tax-dependent finance mode; the lack of primary care; and residential and community long term care. In particular, Dr. Ben Fong, Senior Lecturer of SPEED, advocates changing Hong Kong’s disease-curing model into a health care model that emphasizes prevention and health monitoring.

Apart from tackling health care challenges, CAHMR will also explore subjects like economic opportunities in the elderly market and second careers of elders. "Affluent retirees who have investments and retirement funds have a unique spending power,” observes Prof. Warren Chiu, Associate Dean (Quality Assurance) of CPCE. "Therefore, products and services such as travel and housing designs can be developed to cater to their needs.”

SPEED is already working on ageing and related management. It organizes the annual CPCE Health Conference to promote awareness and share insights on ageing, health and long term care with international experts.

It has also launched academic programmes directly related to ageing and healthcare management: BSc (Hons) in Applied Sciences (Health Studies); BA (Hons) in Business (Health Services Management); and Diploma of Active Ageing.

"We need more young people to enter the elderly market,” adds Dr. Jack Lo, Director of SPEED. "This calls for a change across the board, spanning such crucial issues as policy, perception, image and remuneration package.”

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