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The Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA)

Organization Background

The Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA) was founded by a group of Hong Kong citizens in 1996 after an incident during a cold spell in which more than 100 elderly citizens living alone were found dead. To prevent a recurrence of the tragedy, SCHSA was formed and now provides a number of services to the elderly in Hong Kong with the aim of enhancing their quality of life through the development and promotion of various services.

The organization's mission is: to provide a 24-hour emergency assistant service to the elderly; to respond to both the psychological and physiological needs of the elderly through the hotline service; to mobilize the community by establishing a volunteer network that will enhance the well-being of the elderly and create a harmonious living environment for them; and to fill the current service gaps and to supplement the existing services for the elderly.

The SCHSA mainly provides the Personal Emergency Link (PE Link) service and the Elder Ring Hotline service to Hong Kong's elderly. Currently, SCHSA is the only non-profit charitable organisation that offers a 24-hour PE Link emergency support service for millions of elderly citizens living alone as well as for other people in need.

Awards

In order to provide the best quality service to the elderly, the SCHSA employs the latest information and communication technology (ICT) in their services. In the 2008 Hong Kong ICT Awards, the SCHSA received a total of five major awards in three different categories: Best Lifestyle, Best Public Service Application, and Best Ubiquitous Networking.

Mobile Link Service

The Mobile Link service, officially launched on 30 November 2008, is an innovative outdoor support and caring service, which provides 24-hour support service to elderly people aged 60 or above. With the use of a specially designed, one-button Mobile Link device and utilizing GSM mobile technology, users can easily seek assistance from the SCHSA's 24-hour call centre by simply pressing the button or pulling a strap. In case the users are lost, their approximate locations and whereabouts can be tracked to allow authorities to locate them. This innovative device allows the elderly to enjoy an active lifestyle in an outdoor environment.

This Mobile Link service, jointly developed by SCHSA, CSL Ltd, and mSolution Consultants Ltd, won four awards in the 2008 Hong Kong ICT Awards including: the Best Ubiquitous Networking Grand Award, the Best Ubiquitous Networking (Mobile Enterprise Solution) Gold Award, the Best Ubiquitous Networking (Mobile Infotainment Application) Silver Award, and the Best Lifestyle Award (Social Life and Community) Silver Award.

According to the judges, "the Mobile Link Service is an innovative and great breakthrough of social enterprise utilising ICT and mobile devices for elderly care and support. With further improvement, it can be extended to digital, wireless e-health systems in the future. As the elderly population is expected to increase in the coming decades, with the use of the service, it can uplift social harmony and have a good social impact."

The PE Link Service

The Personal Emergency PE Link service, started in 1996, is an advanced communication system that connects users to a 24-hour PE Link Centre. By activating the main unit or the remote trigger, users can speak to an operator through the main unit at home. Operators are able to identify the needs of the caller and provide the necessary support services. The PE Link service is open to applicants of all ages, home districts and living environments. Anyone with a residential telephone line can install it.

In the event of an emergency, operators at the PE Link Centre will call the police or the ambulance centre for medical assistance; call the emergency contact person to report the latest status of the user; and fax the medical history to medical staff to facilitate the rescue and medical care. If there is no response from the caller after two minutes, the centre will treat the case as an emergency and call the Fire Service to respond. In addition to emergency services, users can press the PE Link at any time to access the ancillary services depending on a specific situation. These include providing social service information and referrals regarding home help services, psychological counseling, contacting family members and security functions.

Tele-health Link Service

Tele-health Link is a new, value-added service for the PE Link user. The service is currently in pilot testing in collaboration with the Hospital Authority and United Christian Hospital. The Tele-health-Link service won the Best Public Service Application (Small Scale Project) Gold Award at the 2008 Hong Kong ICT Awards.

The service consists of three components. The first is Post-discharge Tele-health Advice, through which a registered nurse will call high-risk discharge patients from United Christian Hospital at least twice after their discharge and appropriate health advice will be given. The second is the Health Advice Hotline, which is designated for users who are seeking advice from registered nurses. The third is the 24-hour transmission of electronic patient records (ePR), which deals with the situations when users are sent to hospital in an emergency, extracts of their ePR can be transmitted to the hospital.

Future Outlook

In the future, SCHSA will continue to respond to the everyday needs of local elderly citizens to accomplish the vision of "singly not fear; elderly be cared." The launch of the innovative Mobile Link service is a success for the organization as illustrated by the large number of subscribers. The association's PE Link service has also made substantial contributions to society. As of 31 May 2008, PE Link has received more than 2.6 million calls for help and helped save 151,982 lives. SCHSA will continue to enhance the quality of life for the elderly by developing and promoting more effective welfare services.

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council