Bulletin January 2018 (Vol. 19 No. 2)

Recommendations based on two research projects by the Faculty of Architecture are contributing to the development and provision of housing for the elderly. Living longer and better interviews with senior professionals and former senior government officials. “With the proportion of elderly people in the population increasing due to longer life spans, the aim was to investigate housing trends in overseas ageing communities and the possibility of similar trends happening in Hong Kong; to define future housing demands from households of different life stages; to study the current living arrangements of the elderly, especially those in co-residence with the younger generations; and to assess policies such as ageing in place, elderly housing schemes and In Asian society, respect for elderly relatives is strong and the principle of ageing in place – that is remaining in your own home environment while you age – is upheld. However, this traditional Chinese normative order is facing challenges from rapid social and economic changes. “85 per cent of the people surveyed, aged 50 and above, said they would prefer ageing in place when they got older,” said Professor Chiu. “The question is how can we make the living environment surrounding them more supportive? Approximately 70 per cent of Hongkongers live in housing estates, and my recommendation on neighbourhood planning is to use our existing estate network to increase the density of elderly-related service provision, such as medical clinics and daycare centres, so that ageing in place is possible. Pyschological and social well-being “Estates must have adequate services and facilities to enhance the elderly’s psychological and social well-being. Public space must be accessible and usable and there should be adequate circulation routes such as covered walkways and a social community environment where they can interact within the neighbourhood. Most public housing estates in Hong Kong have this as a planning principle – but we want to ensure that it is not just a principle but is actually happening.” Jolly Place, a purpose-designed housing estate of HKHS, is located on flat ground with a variety of facilities and shopping centres in the neighbourhood within easy access. “Residents interviewed were very happy there,” she said. “Based on the recommendations of the report, HKHS and the Government are looking into developing a more The research projects, collectively entitled ‘Improving Livability in Ageing Hong Kong‘, were carried out by Professor Rebecca Lai Har Chiu and her team in the Department of Urban Planning and Design and the Department of Social Work and Social Administration. The first, ‘A Comprehensive Study on Housing in an Ageing Community’, was commissioned by the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS), Hong Kong’s housing laboratory and foremost non-government organisation in subsidised housing provision. It comprised a questionnaire survey of 5,000 individuals, aged between 34 and 75, 20 focus group meetings, and My recommendation on neighbourhood planning is to use our existing estate network to increase the density of elderly-related service provision such as medical clinics and daycare centres so that ageing in place is possible. Professor Rebecca Lai Har Chiu Jolly Place, located in Tseung Kwan O, is a purpose-designed housing estate of the Hong Kong Housing Society for benefiting the elderly by way of healthy ageing and ageing in place. The estate is equipped with supporting facilities including rehabilitation room, gymnasium and Jolly Place Care Home, and the Society’s first residential care home for the elderly. holistic solutions to enable active and healthy ageing,” Professor Chiu said. The second study, ‘Social Sustainability of Gated Communities in a High Density City: The Case of Hong Kong’, involved a questionnaire of 900 samples and looked into the evolution of housing estates in Hong Kong as semi-gated communities; social sustainability considerations in planning and design and social sustainability performance from the perceptions of internal and external residents; and socio-spatial performance among different types of existing housing estates. basic version of Jolly Place for the lower-income home owners.” Studies into how to reduce degeneration of cognitive processes in the elderly show that living within a mixed community, well served with facilities helps significantly. “While elderly homes can be good at first because the residents feel safe surrounded by people of the same age, there is no stimulation for the brain, so in the long term they are not beneficial. For the elderly, the most stimulating environment comes from living in what we term ‘Mixed Developments’,” said Professor Chiu. “Mixed in terms of age range and activities, so they are living within a normal and vibrant neighbourhood, and preferably within reasonable proximity to their children – while not actually living together. This is why ageing in well-equipped neighbourhoods such as our public and private housing estates makes so much sense.” To ensure the focus remains on this subject, Professor Chiu also recommended the formation of an integrated Elderly Policy and Elderly Affairs Office at bureau level in order to develop policy for the future developments. This would include land use zoning, and coordinating services which need to be coordinated across all government units. The report, which won an HKU Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award in 2017, is already making an impact. HKHS used the recommendations when devising its Medium-Term Development Strategy. The Government’s Planning Department also referred to the findings in formulating its long-term development strategy beyond 2030, specifically to develop inclusive and supportive housing for all ages in the context of a livable high-density city. In addition, the recommendations have been taken up by the Elderly Services Programme Plan commissioned by the Labour and Welfare Bureau with the aim of enhancing the provision of elderly services and facilities. For the next stage of the livability research, Professor Chiu is looking into housing standards for the elderly in other Asian countries, to see if Hong Kong’s experience can be applied there. Professor Chiu said: “We are studying South and South-Eastern Asian cities in the Belt and Road Region, such as Dhaka (Bangladesh) and this research is also expected to generate local impacts to help in tackling livability issues in ageing cities.” █ Knowledge Exchange 33 | 34 The University of Hong Kong Bulletin | January 2018