Are there any patterns of staff vacancies (or with high turnover rate) that have been identified in the long-term care system? | Hong Kong SAR Are there any patterns of staff vacancies (or with high turnover rate) that have been identified in the long-term care system? | Hong Kong SAR

18 Aug 2022

Hong Kong is facing a shortage of LTC staff in professional positions such as nurses, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists, as well as non-professional / frontline positions such as health workers and personal care workers (Working Group on Elderly Services Programme Plan, 2017). With the funding of health care services under the Food and Health Bureau and the funding for LTC services under the Labour and Welfare Bureau, compartmentalised arrangement has led to frequent loss of nursing and allied health staff in LTC to acute care facilities due to the lack of promotion prospects for these professional staff. The lack of medical staff in LTC facilities has also resulted in frequent visits to high cost hospital admissions of residents in long-term care institutions (Yuen, 2014). Moreover, Hong Kong is facing a severe problem of workforce shortage of doctors and nurses. In 2016, the number of doctors and nurses per 1,000 population (1.91 and 7.14) is relatively low when compared to other developed countries such as Singapore (2.31 and 7.20), Japan (2.52 and 9.06), and the UK (2.81 and 9.87) (Legislative Council Secretariat, 2018).

The staff vacancy rate in elderly care homes had soared from about 11% to 18% in 2017 (Zhao, 2019). The number of vacancies in elderly care services nearly tripled to 2,630, accounting for 10% of overall available positions in 2018 (Legislative Council Secretariat, 2019, August 16). The required actual manpower for nursing homes, residential care activities, and social work activities altogether was projected from 43,500 in 2017 to 56,900 in 2027. The projected average annual rate of change is +2.7% (Census and Statistics Department, 2019d). To attract more LTC workforce, the Social Welfare Department has launched the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services (the Navigation Scheme) starting from July 2015 to encourage young people to join the elderly and rehabilitation care services. As of December 2018, a total of 1,018 trainees have been recruited by service operators of the Navigation Scheme. It is expected that a total of 1,200 training places will be provided in five years starting from 2020-2021 (The Government of the Hong Kong SAR, 2019, April 3).


Census and Statistics Department. (2019d). Report on Manpower Projection to 2027. Retrieved from https://www.statistics.gov.hk/pub/B1050016E2019XXXXE0100.pdf

Legislative Council Secretariat. (2018). Research Brief Issue No. 2 2017 – 2018 – The 2018-2019 Budget. Hong Kong: Legislative Council, HKSAR Retrieved from https://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1718rb02-the-2018-2019-budget-20180412-e.pdf.

Legislative Council Secretariat. (2019, August 16). Supplementary Labour Scheme. Retrieved from https://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1819issh29-supplementary-labour-scheme-20190816-e.pdf.

The Government of the Hong Kong SAR. (2019, April 3). LCQ8: Manpower situation of the elderly service sector [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201904/03/P2019040300679.htm

Working Group on Elderly Services Programme Plan, Elderly Commission of Government of Hong Kong SAR,. (2017). Elderly Services Programme Plan. Hong Kong: Elderly Commission of Government HKSAR Retrieved from https://www.elderlycommission.gov.hk/en/download/library/ESPP_Final_Report_Eng.pdf.

Yuen, P. P. (2014). Financing Health Care and Long-term Care in a Rapidly Ageing Context: Assessing Hong Kong’s Readiness. Public Policy and Administration, 17(1), 56-64.

Zhao, S. (2019). Hong Kong welfare secretary says elderly care homew will not turn to foreign domestic helpers to fill the labout shortage. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/2189344/hong-kong-welfare-secretary-says-elderly-care-homes