Aging in place could improve one’s wellbeing by having a better sense of autonomy and independence when staying in a familiar setting near one’s neighbors and friends. For frail older adults, however, aging in place is not always a realistic plan.
Given the gap of the formal eldercare service provided by the government, and our experience from the successful “Weaving of Wellness – Seniors Mutual Help Development Project” (“Time Bank”) co-developed with Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Tseung Kwan O Aged Care Complex (“SKH TKO Complex”) , The D. H. Chen Foundation (“the Foundation”) has therefore co-initiated “千日。在家 – 有個伴” (the “Program”) with SKH TKO Complex.
With a belief that building social network around carers is a key enabling factor for aging in place, the Program recruits volunteers in the community to be Time Bank members, and groups them as “Buddies in the Neighborhood” (老友伴) and “Buddies of Wisdom” (智囊伴) to be connected with families waiting for long-term eldercare service. “Buddies in the Neighborhood” are neighbors residing in the 10-minute living circle who can offer support to the daily needs of caregiving families. “Buddies of Wisdom”, on the other hand, are professionals in different fields and with hearts to give back. In exchange for their services or wisdom on caregiving-related matters such as legal, financial or home management etc., families “pay” these buddies with Time Bank credits which can be used for exchanging other services or souvenirs under the Time Bank project.
Starting with a 15-month pilot period to experiment a localized person-centered case management model in Hong Kong through incentivized volunteering via the Time Bank mechanism, the Program targets to systematically integrate informal community resources to bridge gaps in the formal service system, and ultimately empowers families to actualize plans to age in place. In addition to supporting families in need of eldercare service, the Foundation hopes to walk with older adults and carers in their journey of experiencing what “care” is all about.