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Stair climbers restoring seniors' mobility

By Kathy Zhang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-21 09:24

Buy or rent?

Stair climbers have been on the market for several years. Affordability is a significant consideration as they range in price from HK $80,000 to HK $100,000. That's expensive for a facility that is typically only used once or twice a week.

"Few families choose to buy a stair climber after a look at the product's cost efficiency," Leung said.

A list issued by the Hong Kong government shows that most products for elderly and rehabilitation use cost upward of HK $30,000 and can run as high as HK $285,000. The list covers 64 appliances approved for procurement, rental or trial usage.

The stair climber and most other therapeutic devices present an extended learning curve for seniors and their caregivers to get to grips with operating them.

"The rental service pilot program helps to address users' concerns on the cost efficiency of the product," Leung said.

Under the program, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and four NGOs - Caritas Hong Kong, Hong Kong Christian Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service Hong Kong and St. James' Settlement - have purchased 10 stair climbers for rental purposes.

The rental service, rolled out in April last year, is in great demand.

At the start, services were provided in just four areas - Sham Shui Po, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Central and Western District - which have a lot of old buildings that don't have lifts, Leung said.

After the project proved extremely popular, the social service council decided to extend it citywide to serve more people.

So far, the 10 stair climbers have served more than 7,000 people - seven times higher than the social service council's original estimate of 1,000.

The pilot project, which was intended to run from April last year to March, has been extended until this month, and the social service council is seeking further funding.

Looking forward, the council proposes working with hospitals or other institutions to initiate similar pilot rental projects by the end of the year. Chua Hoi-wai, the council's CEO, said one plan is to include electric beds in the rental program.

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