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Stair climbers restoring seniors' mobility

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

Employee shortfall

The only problem is that the pilot project lacks human resources.

A trained operator accompanies the device on every rental to ensure user safety. Each operator receives 48 hours of training before they gain their certificate of competence.

There is a threshold for stair climber operators because the work is a "test of both strength and patience", said Mak, an operator with Caritas Hong Kong.

The operators not only need to be strong enough to manage a stair climber while an adult is using it, but they also must be able to navigate the device up and down narrow staircases.

One time, Mak had to assist a client down eight flights of stairs. "After that, my arms were numb and sore," he said.

Acknowledging that operating a stair climber is hard work, Leung said she hoped "more young people would be welcomed into the project to make their contribution to society".

She also hopes the government will provide more manpower and the funding to purchase more equipment.

The government has begun addressing the issue.

Lam Ching-choi, chairman of the Elderly Commission, which was founded by the Hong Kong government to advise on policies relating to seniors, said authorities are considering allowing residents to use government-issued community care vouchers to pay for the rentals.

Eligible seniors already have access to rehabilitation exercise programs and nursing and personal care through the vouchers, and services are available at community centers or homes.

The city government also intends to make other high-tech devices available for rental, and Lam predicts that the expanded program will bring a significant improvement in seniors' quality of life.

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