(Hong Kong, 29 January 2008) The visit to the new hospice centre at Queen Mary Hospital today by Mr Li Ka-shing, Chairman of the Li Ka-shing Foundation (LKSF), and Mr Anthony Wu, Chairman of the Hospital Authority (HA), marked the extension of the LKSF’s nationwide “Heart of Gold” Hospice Programme from Mainland China to Hong Kong to provide terminal-stage cancer patients with palliative care services. In addition to LKSF’s HKD42 million, HA will provide a matching fund of HKD23 million.
This programme will see the establishment of eight hospice day care centres across seven hospital clusters. These newly established hospice day care centres seek to ease the pain of the dying by combining a comfortable home-like and tranquil atmosphere together with convenient access to professional care, equipment and expertise, social and psychiatric support resources in one hub.
How to relieve suffering when recovery is beyond hope and caring for life is the heart of the programme’s philosophy. Over a three-year period new integrated programmes will serve the community through a range of comfort and care services including day care, home care, community education to promulgate a positive end-of-life attitude, volunteer training and research. The funds will also be used to recruit more medical and counselling professionals to join the service.
The palliative care services will also extend psychological and bereavement support to anguished families, especially children, during their suffering and loss. Under this programme, 8,000 psychological counselling sessions will be provided, while an estimated 750 bereaved children and 500 families are benefited.
HA anticipates that the enhanced services made possible by the programme will serve an additional 5,000 cancer patients, 20,000 day attendances and 12,000 home visits.
LKSF’s “Heart of Gold” programme will also play a catalytic role in putting together different non-governmental program and related social organizations to sharing experiences and augment the effective use of resources in providing palliative care services.
Mr Anthony Wu expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Foundation for its support. “Palliative care service is also a core component of cancer care and will be provided as early as when terminal illnesses are diagnosed in cancer patients. Assessment by multidisciplines will then be made to plan for the patients’ physical and psychosocial needs. The generous donation of the LKSF will support the promotion of palliative care services to benefit needy patients,” said Mr Wu.
Mr Li Ka-shing pioneers the charitable hospice movement in China. Since 1998, through LKSF’s “Heart of Gold” programme, 65,000 patients who could not afford medications and care have been offered free hospice and palliative care. By 2008, the service will be expanded through 28 hospices nationwide, offering care to more than 18,000 patients each year. To date, total funding for “Heart of Gold” programme exceeds HKD240 million.
Mr Li Ka-shing said, “Hospice care is all about extraordinary people taking the time to bring hope and improve the lives of others. Dignity in death is priceless and care and respect for those with terminal illness are key indicators of our social values and the mark of any civilised society.” Praising all front-line hospice staff involved in the programme, Mr Li said, “Your work is imbued with sadness but it is admirable. It makes a positive difference to the suffering. Hope transcends and connects, bring peace, comfort and dignity.”
The eight public hospitals participating in the Hong Kong palliative programme are Queen Mary Hospital, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Grantham Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital.
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