call +852 3426 2909
  call +852 3426 2909

You are here

Palliative Care for Elderly in Chinese Culture Society

Submitted on Mar 05, 2015 • By admin

Palliative care is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach that includes specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

A World Health Organisation statement[9] describes palliative care as "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual."

Grantham Hospital was opened in 1957, with department providing palliative medicine and bereavement counselling services. The hospice centre under the Li Ka Shing Foundation Hospice Service Programme was set up to provide holistic care to cancer patients and their families.

In 2011, a survey was conducted at the Grantham Hospital, which covered 123 elderly patients over the course of 24 months. The survey compares deaths that took place in geriatrics units, hospice, acute hospital, other convalescent unit and patient’s homes. Only 2.7% of the elderly death occurred at homes, suggesting that end-of-life at homes are very uncommon in Hong Kong.


The Topic of “End-of-life Care” and “Death” is a taboo in the Hong Kong culture?

End-of-Life Care refers to palliative care of the last life pathway. With development of modern medical support, many previously incurable diseases are now effectively controlled consequent extension of human life. Period of physical deterioration is transited before we go to last life span. End-of-Life Care means pay attention and care to the patient at this stage. Location does not limit in their homes, hospitals, elderly homes or nursing homes etc.

(Informational from: “Palliative Care”, Video Teaching Material from Society of the Promotion of Hospice Care,

Where we Die?

Access to palliative care may be perceived as a fundamental human right. Until 20th century in the US, the appropriate place to die was a foregone conclusion: by expectation and practice, it was at home, surrounded by family and friends. Staffs in hospital, convalescent unit or geriatrics unit make little efforts to discharge patients before they died...... as to allow patients to return to a comforting environment for their final days. People lacks of families or friends seems no choice in their place of dealth.

Where we live governs where we die? Our future……

•Dying-at-home / Nursing home (Continuity of Residence)?

•Advanced care planning?

•Less emergency Hospital visit?

•Is 24/7 professional nursing support at home possible?



Dr. Benjamin HW CHENG, Palliative Medicine Unit, Grantham Hospital. (2015). Palliative Care for the Intellectual Disabled Elderly in a Chinese Culture Society. From 9th Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation cum 21st Annual Congress of Gerontology.

“Palliative Care”, Video Teaching Material from Society of the Promotion of Hospice Care,

Society of the Promotion of Hospice Care,