Every year, there are around 40,000 deaths in Hong Kong. In both the public and private sectors, there is a total of roughly 450 beds offering palliative and hospice care services to patients, of which, 300 beds are provided by public hospitals, 124 by Haven of Hope Christian Service (“HOHCS”) and 30 by the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care (“SPHC”). HOHCS and SPHC are the only two providers of palliative and hospice beds outside the public care system, the supply is severely limited.
A concept gaining wider attention in the recent decades, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems related to life-threatening illness. Palliative care is often mistaken to be equivalent to end of life care services and it is not true. It is applicable early in the course of illness and is carried out alongside other curative treatments. It aims to relieve, or at least, lessen the suffering of illness, so that patients are not constantly consumed by associated symptoms, pain and stress. It offers patients and families holistic support and it puts life back into day-to-day living.
The Economist Intelligence Unit published the 2015 Quality of Death Index last year and ranked Hong Kong at 22nd in the index, as one of the areas that “do(es) not perform as well as one might expect, given their wealth.” The Foundation values the need of palliative care services and we render our support to both HOHCS and SPHC in their procurement of medical equipment. In the short run, the support would provide additional or better equipped facilities to address the immediate demands for palliative and hospice care services, and in the long run, we hope to see more service providers incorporate these care services in their healthcare provision and benefit the wider general public.