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A Comprehensive Guide to Palliative Care Options in Hong Kong: Compare Public and Private Residential & Home Care Services

Jan 15, 2024

By: Chloe Ng

What is palliative care?

The aim of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients with critical diseases and their carers. Through ways of early diagnosis, accurate evaluation, resolving physical and mental problems, etc., it is hoped to alleviate their agony. According to each patient’s situation, they will receive different treatment, such as physiotherapy, drug therapy, acupuncture, etc., so as to reduce their physical pain. Other than that, professionals like medical social workers and clinical psychologists will also counsel the patients and their carers. They will help the patients live the best life possible before their lives end, and will offer mental support to the families and carers after the patients pass away.

In Hong Kong, both public hospitals and some private institutions provide related services, including in-patient services and home-care services. For in-patient services, patients will stay at the institutions with 24/7 professional care. As for home-care services, professionals will come to the patients’ home to visit and carry out treatments, so that patients can stay at home with ease.

In-patient Palliative Care

In-patient palliative care allows patients to receive 24/7 professional care in the institution. Most of the institutions let families and carers stay overnight to keep the patients in company. Apart from the Hospital Authority, there are currently some other private institutions providing in-patient palliative care. They are Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre, Jockey Club Home for Hospice, and The HKACS Jockey Club Cancer Rehabilitation Centre.

Public In-patient Palliative Care Services

1. Hospital Authority

Hospital Authority’s palliative care is organized and coordinated by its 7 clusters. The service team includes doctors, nurses, medical social workers, clinical psychologists, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, etc.

Included services (Charges may vary with each treatment) :

  • Daily holistic care, Symptom relief, Preventing and curing complications, Improving patients’ mobility, Maintaining patients’ self-care abilities, Psychological counseling, Grief counseling, etc.

Currently, Caritas Medical Centre, Bradbury Hospice, and Shatin Hospital are providing in-patient palliative care under Hospital Authority. Patients in need should be referred by their doctors.

Private In-patient Services

1. Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre

Established in 2006, Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre is situated on Haven of Hope Road in Tseung Kwan O. It is a not-for-profit institution providing medical services for frail older persons, chronic disease patients, and terminal patients. Their in-patient services are especially designed for patients with critical conditions like terminal cancer and organ failure. Patients will be looked after by a professional medical team 24/7.

Included services:

  • Medical Related: Daily ward round by physicians, Extra ward round, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Tube feeding, Electrocardiogram, Quarantine, Wound dressing, Rehabilitation, Medical tests, Diagnostic radiology, Aromatherapy massage, Podiatry, Speech therapy, etc. (Charges range from $210 to $ 2,880/day)
  • Daily Care: Catering, Laundry, Shuttles, etc.  (Charges range between $70 to $ 180/day)
  • Other Services: Mortuary ($850/ work day for the first two weeks, after that $1,700/work day, free on Sunday and public holiday)
  • Free Psychological counseling and Social Activities

The institution provides multiple kinds of rooms, including Family Suite, Single room, 2-bedded room, and 4- 7 beds room. All of them are equipped with heating and cooling air conditioning and wifi. There are also a TV, phone, fridge, washroom, and bath room in some rooms. (Charges range from $460 to $5,820/day with a required deposit of $60,000-$120,000 depending on room type.) Families or carers can opt to stay overnight (Charges range from $115 to $200/day, charges exempted for private nurses with RN/EN qualification). Other facilities include auxiliary bathroom, chapel, green resting terrace, rooftop healing garden,. and more, allowing patients to have a relaxed and comfortable life. If patients are facing financial difficulties, they may ask for referral from their medical social worker or doctor to join the Relief & Charity Service Beds Programme or Sandwish Class Beds Programme. They may receive certain degree of financial help based on their situations.

If patients wish to join the Holistic Care Centre, they should ask their doctors to fill in the Referral Form for applications. After the institution has evaluated the patient’s situation, they will arrange his/her admission according to the situation. 

Photos from: Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre

2. Jockey Club Home for Hospice

Jockey Club Home for Hospice is situated on A Kung Kok Shan Road in Shatin. It was established by the charity Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care, providing palliative care to any patients with life-limiting diseases no matter their age. Their medical team includes doctors, nurses, professionals of different areas, and other medical staff.

Included services (Charges may vary with each treatment) :

  • For patients: Pain management, Physical symptoms control, Psychological care and emotional support, Spiritual and religious support, Community resources, etc/
  • For carers: Carer training, Grief counseling, Children counseling, Family counseling, Bereavement support, Group support, Memorial services

Facilities include a garden and a large dining area, where patients can enjoy an environment similar to their home. Every patient will have their own room, with sufficient equipment like foam air mattresses. The rooms are either with a river view or garden view (Charges range from $4,500 to $5,400/day. Monthly plans are available with charges ranging from around $60000 to $81000). Families and carers can stay overnight with the patients (If the families/carers stay for more than 8 hours in a 24-hour range, there will be a $500 discount on each day’s residential fee). Children and pets are allowed to visit with supervision. If patients have any financial needs, financial support can be provided for eligible families. 

Jockey Club Home for Hospice’s palliative services are especially for patients with declining health conditions, life expectancy of one year or less, and preference for comfort care over active treatments. If the patient wishes to apply for this service, they can fill in the application form by themselves. A home care nurse will contact the patients if they are eligible.

Photos from: Jockey Club Home for Hospice

3. The HKACS Jockey Club Cancer Rehabilitation Centre

The HKACS Jockey Club Cancer Rehabilitation Centre is under the The Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society (HKACS) and situated on Nam Long Shan Road in Wong Chuk Hang. As a not-for-profit institution, it provides health care services for frail older persons, chronic disease patients, and cancer patients. Their palliative services served terminal patients with 24/7 care.

Included services:

  • Services included in Nursing Care Charge (Charges range from $3,380 to $7,600 for different dependency levels): treatment and symptoms control, daily care, counseling, emotional support, recreational activities, etc.
  • Other services with extra charges: Chinese medicine services, physiotherapy, speech therapy, Podiatry, etc.

There are several types of rooms, including 2 or 3-bedded rooms, standard single rooms, large single rooms, and deluxe single rooms. All rooms have a heating and cooling air-conditioner, a bathroom, a washroom, a fridge, a TV (with Now channels), and wifi. There will also be a mini safe, a telephone, a folding bed for overnight accompanying families or carers in the single rooms. (Room charges range from $27,000 to $85,500/month. Short term residential services are available with charges starting from $10.100/5 days. Extra charges for overnight accompanying families or carers) When first admitted into the centre, an integrated admission assessment will first be done (one-off charges of $2,000). There will also be a charge for the nursing care  package ($490/day). If patients are facing financial problems, they can join the Charity Bed Programme by HKACS through referral from their doctors and medical social workers. Depending on their situations, the charges can be lowered or even exempted. 

If a patient wishes to join this centre, his/her doctor should fill in the referral form. The institution will contact the patient to carry on with the application. 

Photo from: The HKACS Jockey Club Cancer Rehabilitation Centre

4.Vera Ruttonjee Desai Spiritual End of Life Care Centre

The Life Care Centre, under The Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union Kwong Yum Care Home (Integrated Aged Care Service), was established in 2021 in Kwun Tong. It aims to provide transitional care services for older people with terminal illnesses. There will be a Professional Spiritual Care Team, consisting of multiple doctors and therapists, serving the older people throughout the plan.

Included services:

  • Medical services: Provided by professionals like geriatricians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, Chinese medicine practitioners, social workers, pastors and expressive arts therapists, etc. They will assess the patient’s condition regularly and assist them and their carers in forming an end-of-life care plan and Advanced Care Planning for a better quality of life 
  • Mental health services: Mental health support, after-death arrangements, Bereavement support, etc.

Service options:

  • 3-month transitional comprehensive care service: Providing transitional care service for older people after they are discharged from the hospital and help them and their carers to be prepared for returning home
  • 6-month comprehensive care service: Assisting older people to enjoy a quality life before the end of life and help them and their carers to be well-prepared for it

The centre is separated into living rooms, a dining room and a gathering corner, where patients can enjoy an environment similar to their home. There is also a Pastoral Corner, a Silent Prayer Corner and a Hall for older people to enhance their mental health. The institution provides 3 kinds of rooms, including single room, double room, and 4-person room. Each includes heating and cooling equipment, bathroom, and fall prevention facilities. As this center is a part of a subsidy scheme, the accommodation fees are exempted. Patients are only charged with the additional service fees. They need to pay a "short-term residential service" deposit and an “additional service charges” deposit before admission.

This service’s target users are patients who are over 60 years old, were examined by a Hong Kong registered medical practitioner, with an irreversible terminal illness and repeated admission to hospital for 3 times or above, are receiving an allowance and are receiving a subsidy from the Social Welfare Department. If patients are interested in this service, they can fill in the application form and hand it in alongside with their medical examination form, residential address proof, and financial documents proof to the centre directly. The centre will arrange admission once the patients’ qualifications are confirmed.

Photo from: Vera Ruttonjee Desai Spiritual End of Life Care Centre

Home-based Palliative Care

Home-based palliative care is suitable for patients who prefer living at home. A professional medical team will come up to the patients’ home to provide treatment and care. Living in a familiar place will also help the patients to be happier and more relaxed. Apart from the Hospital Authority, some private institutions also provide home-care services in Hong Kong. Jockey Club Home for Hospice provides the services both individually, while Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre, S.K.H Holy Carpenter Church, The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, and St. James' Settlement provide the services in collaboration with Jockey Club End-of-Life Community Care Project.

Public Home-based Palliative Care Services

1. Hospital Authority
Hospital Authority’s palliative care is organized and coordinated by its 7 clusters. The service is provided by nurses specialized in palliative care. They will visit the patients once to twice per week with flexible arrangements when needed.

Included services (Charges may vary with each treatment) :

  • Pain management, Designing caring plan, Providing correct medical knowledge, Teaching carers skills, Arranging doctor appointments, Emotional support, Grief counseling, etc.

Hospitals that provide home-care palliative services include Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Ruttonjee & Tang Shiu Kin Hospitals, Grantham Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Buddhist Hospital, Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital, Haven of Hope Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre, Bradbury Hospice, North District Hospital, and Tuen Mun Hospital.  Patients in need should be referred by their doctors in the public hospitals. Some hospitals accept self-referrals or  referrals from private doctors.

Private Home-based Palliative Care Services

1. Jockey Club Home for Hospice

Apart from the mentioned in-patient services, Jockey Club Home for Hospice also provides home-care palliative services for terminal patients. They serve both patients at home and patients at nursing homes or hospitals.

Included services (Charges vary based on the actual treatments):

  • Pain & symptoms control, Emotional & social supports, Daily care, Medicine management, Full week services, Carer support & education, Family support, Arranging doctor appointments, Arranging social resources, Grief counseling, etc.

Interested patients should fill in the application form directly. A palliative care nurse will call for further details when the form is received.

The following institutions are in collaboration with Jockey Club End-of-Life Community Care Project.

2. Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Centre
Their JCECC Hospice Home especially serves older persons with terminal illnesses. Their service area covers all areas in Hong Kong (except Outlying Islands), but patients in Kowloon, Tseung Kwan O, and East Hong Kong Island are prioritized. 

Included services:

  • Home care (Free for the first time, later $30/ 1 hour session), Specialist appointments, Shuttle services ($30/trip, limited to Kowloon & Tseung Kwan O), Rehabilitation exercise & training, Carers’ skills educations, Emotional support from patients and carers, Grief counseling, etc. (Some services may require extra charges)

This programme targets patients who are at least 60-years old, with life expectancy less than 12 months, and with cancers or other chronic organ failure illnesses. Interested patients should ask a medical staff or social worker to fill in the referral form. There are limited places for each year, so the programme is first-come-first-serve based for eligible patients. 

3. S.K.H Holy Carpenter Church
S.K.H Holy Carpenter Church has provided palliative services for terminal patients since 2016. Their services area include Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, and Tin Shui Wai.

Included services (Consult the institution for detailed charges):

  • Home care, Provide carer knowledge, Psychological counseling, Spiritual care, Wish fulfilling activities, Rebuilding social life, etc.
  • Patient support group, Family support group

Their service targets terminal patients who are at 60-years old and with life expectancy less than 12 months. Interested patients can be referred by hospitals or contact the center directly. The center will confirm patients’ eligibility after having an interview with them.

4. The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation

The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation’s team is formed by medical members and social workers from different areas. Their “Life Rainbow” End-of-Life Care Services aims to enhance terminal patients’ quality of life by providing home-care palliative services. Their service areas include Wan Chai and East Hong Kong Island.

Included services (Consult the institution for detailed charges):

  • Symptoms relief, Arranging social resources, Provide assistance tools, Counseling services, Social workers’ services, Developing a positive lifestyle, etc.

Their targeted patients are those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, End-stage Renal Failure, Motor Neuron Disease, Late-stage Parkinson’s Disease, and Cardiac Failure. Interested patients can contact the center directly.

5. St. James' Settlement
Cheering@Home End-of-Life Community Care Project of St James’ Settlement provides holistic home-care services for older persons with terminal illnesses. Their service areas include Hong Kong Island, Shum Shui Po, Tsuen wan, and Kwai Tsing. 

Included services (Most services are free. Some services require extra charges):

  • Symptoms management, Carer education, Health evaluation, Assistance tools renting, Shuttles for doctor appointments, Services referral, Counseling services, Activities plans, etc.

This service is provided for terminal patients who are at least 60-years old and live at their home. Interested patients need to be referred by hospitals.

How to choose palliative care services?

Palliative care services provide support for terminal patients, so that they can have a dignified, happy, and comfortable time at the last part of their lives. These services also help families and carers to take better care of the patients and be more ready for the coming future. Patients should always consult their doctors for advice and choose an appropriate service based on their own situations. Lastly, as the treatments for each patient will be different, keep in mind to always check the detailed charges with the institutions.

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