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Position paper to the LegCo Subcommittee on Promoting Carer-centric Policies on Carer's Support by Tai Po Carers' Group

The "Carers' Concern Group" ("the Concern Group") is formed by a group of carers and members who are concerned about the situation of carers in Tai Po District. The Concern Group is committed to supporting the needs of carers in the district and raising the community's awareness of carers. In this year's Policy Address, the Government has mentioned measures to strengthen the support for carers. The Concern Group is aware that the Panel on Welfare Services has set up a "Subcommittee on Promoting Carer-centric Policies" and will hold public hearings related to carers' issues in the hope that the Government and the Bureau can formulate a more comprehensive and targeted carer-friendly policy and support. 


Recognising unpaid work and formulating more comprehensive "carer-oriented" policies and services

According to the projection of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, there are millions of carers in Hong Kong. Under the traditional norm, most carers are female, with an increasing number of male carers. Unpaid caring work is often overlooked by society. It prevents them from meeting the needs at different stages of their lives, such as long-term care, medical, self-development, employment, social participation, and financial needs. To cater for the needs of different types and stages of carers and solve the problem of insufficient service resources, the Concern Group suggests that the Government should implement a carer-oriented policy and set up carer-specific service centres and outreach support teams so that carer services can break away from the predicament of being "dependent on the carer", and the services should include case management, a 24-hour emergency support hotline, a carer social work team, respite services, emergency respite services, setting up of an identification system to identify the carer with high risk, and so on. The services should include case management, a 24-hour emergency support hotline, carers' social work teams, respite service, emergency respite service, tools for identifying high-risk carers and follow-up services so that carers with different needs can receive dedicated support.


Caring is a social responsibility. Improving elderly services can fundamentally reduce the pressure on carers to care for their family members

Under the current welfare policy, although the Government has made carers of the elderly and persons with disabilities the main targets of its carer support policy, the current elderly services are still unable to support carers effectively. Elderly services should include residential care, home-based care, support services for elderly dischargees, mobile/emergency home-based medical services, etc. However, several factors under the existing policy make it difficult for the elderly to obtain the services, including the application threshold, waiting time, lack of information flow on the services, etc. Besides, factors such as the manpower ratio, supervision of the services, quality of the services, service fees, service scope, etc., affect the willingness of the elderly to use the services and indirectly increase the pressure on the carers. This will indirectly increase the pressure on carers.


Responding to the aspirations of the community, the financial assistance programme should be more comprehensive

Regarding subsidies for carers, the Government still needs to respond to the relevant demands of carers and public organisations and has even caused resource competition between carers and care recipients. The Concern Group is of the view that the Government should substantially lower the application threshold for the subsidy, which should be open for application, and the eligibility criteria and vetting mechanism should be delinked from conditions such as income, number of hours of care, and the waiting list status of the carers, etc. The subsidy for carers should also be introduced to affirm the value of carers' unpaid labour, instead of alleviating poverty. At the same time, the Concern Group also considers that child carers should be included in the target beneficiaries of the subsidy to support the carers' daily needs and financial pressure.

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