Hong Kong leader John Lee calls for three-pronged approach to support carers

Hong Kong’s leader has called for a joint effort by authorities, the private sector and the public to ensure carers get enough support after two middle-aged brothers with mental disabilities were thought to have starved to death when their mother had to go into hospital.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Monday said the whole community could play an important role in offering help to carers as the social welfare network was made up of many non-government organisations that provided services in the sector.

“We also have community care teams to get to know different people in their areas and reach out to people who are hidden, but require help,” Lee said.

“Mutual help between neighbours is also very important. Residents should understand the needs of their neighbours.

The Sau Mau Ping South Estate in Sau Mau Ping, where two middle-aged brothers with mental disabilities were found dead after their carer mother was taken into hospital. Photo: Handout

“If they know about their neighbours’ situations, they should inform some members of the community, organisations providing services or the Social Welfare Department.”

“I hope that we can work together in all three areas.”

Lee was speaking as the government said on Monday it would launch a 24-hour hotline from Tuesday for carers to ask for help.

The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals has been commissioned to run the service, which will have 30 phone lines manned by qualified social workers.

The bodies of the brothers, aged 53 and 55, were found in a 38th-floor flat at Sau Mau Ping Estate in Kowloon last Friday after officers were alerted to a strong smell coming from the home.

Hong Kong minister pledges more help for carers after death of disabled brothers

A source familiar with the case earlier told the Post that a preliminary examination suggested the pair had been dead for some time.

The insider said the brothers had attended regular medical check-ups until June last year.

The source added the two men increasingly depended on their mother’s care after that as their ability to look after themselves deteriorated.

Their mother was admitted to the hospital in May, and the two were left on their own at home.

A younger brother of the pair went to the flat on June 8, but they refused to open the door. The brother also attempted to contact the two by phone but was unsuccessful.

Bedridden woman, 75, found alone in Hong Kong flat with brother’s body

Officials earlier said records showed the family had not contacted any social services organisations or the Social Welfare Department for help.

Lee promised to put more effort into support for carers and said it was a “crucial responsibility” borne by the government and society.

“Other than providing adequate resources to non-government organisations, the authorities will utilise the coordination of service delivery among them and maintain communication with the welfare sector on the provision of information to those who seek help,” he said.

Lee added the Social Welfare Department had provided a variety of subsidies to carers and other help, including the 24-hour hotline, referrals for transport services and respite care.

Read More: Hong Kong leader John Lee calls for three-pronged approach to support carers

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