New tech pushed to help elderly

Local | Charlotte Luo 18 Nov 2019

Carers and service providers should use more innovative technology in providing services to the elderly, says the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi-kwong, who cited the example of an "automated shower machine" developed for the elderly.

In his blog published yesterday, Law said the machine was the first product that caught his attention when he visited Tokyo to study the development of gerontechnology, the scientific research in technology for the elderly, in August.

"A slippery bathroom is often a high-risk place to fall or sprain for elderly or carers. Well-designed equipment can prevent many accidents," Law wrote.

The picture taken at Law's visit showed a device with three handles installed in a bath tub, with a shower facing it.

Law said technology for the elderly will be one of the focuses when formulating the Elderly Services Program Plan.

He did not describe the kind of "automated shower machine" in his blog, but there are similar products invented both in Hong Kong and overseas.

In 2017, a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team created an innovative bathing chair with dual shower and toileting functions.

In Law's blog, he wrote that the government has earmarked HK$1 billion for setting up the "Innovation and Technology Fund for Application in Elderly and Rehabilitation Care" in December 2018. The fund is to subsidize elderly and rehabilitation service units to procure, rent and trial technology products to improve the quality of life of service users as well as reduce the pressure on carers.

In February, the first batch of applications for the fund resulted in HK$37 million being approved to support more than 210 elderly and rehabilitation service units to purchase or lease about 870 innovative products, he said.

The second batch of applications closed on September 24. The fund had received about 2,300 applications from more than 650 service units.

Law said the government had reserved a place next to the Civil Service College in Kwun Tong for a permanent gerontechnology exhibition center.

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