Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Investigation of Health Services and Social Needs of Persons with Laryngectomies in Hong Kong: A Study of Self-Help Involvement

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Investigation of Health Services and Social Needs of Persons with Laryngectomies in Hong Kong: A Study of Self-Help Involvement

Article excerpt

Individuals who experience surgical removal of the vocal mechanism due to laryngeal cancer are considered to be chronically ill. The results of the surgery not only imply a significant degree of irreversible damage to the physical body, but also represent assaults on multiple areas of functioning, such as psychosocial and occupational readjustments. Consideration of the issues of the health services and social needs of people with this disability becomes increasingly important as the number of individuals suffering from the laryngectomized condition increases.

Policies on Health and Welfare in Hong Kong

Yuen (1992) reported that Hong Kong lacks an effective health policy mechanism to guide long-term planning and development of health care provision as a whole. Demographic changes (i.e. aging of the population), rising medical costs, new medical interventions, and enhanced consumer expectations have all brought new pressures on the healthcare system. Governor Christopher Patten, in his address at the opening of the 1995/96 session of the Legislative Council on October 11, 1995 (Hong Kong Government 1995), emphasized the need to meet the community's aspirations for a modern and comprehensive health system in Hong Kong. The government is promoting the concept of self-help and mutual support among the chronically ill through the setting up of Patients' Resources Centers (PRC) since the establishment of the Hospital Authority in 1991. It is the intention of the government to continue to adopt a comprehensive approach to health care which meets demands for higher standards of care and service at an affordable cost to both patients and the community. The government encourages the integration of people with disability into the general community, so that they may develop their potential as responsible members and improve their quality of life. Since the current health care delivery model is mainly institutional-based as a result of the strong influence of the medical model, the advocating of self-help and mutual help offers an informal human relation type of service directed at ensuring a better quality of life for those who have chronic illnesses or conditions.

In 1993-1994, a number of Patients' Resource Centers (PRCs) began operation within major hospitals. Social workers are responsible for the operation of these resource centers. They organize patients' self-help groups, new patients' orientation sessions, health promotion for patients, volunteer activities, resource libraries, and a whole range of programs in which medical staff members are also involved in helping patients adjust to their disabilities. Consumer involvement in advocating self-help is of paramount importance in order to facilitate better quality of life for the chronically ill. The launch of the PRC concept in Hong Kong's Hospital Authority highlights the gradual increase in the emphasis of the utilization of peer support and mutual understanding by health care managers during the rehabilitation process.

Conditions and Needs of Persons with Chronic Illnesses in Hong Kong

With the rapidly aging population and the improvement in health care services, the number of the aged and chronically ill who are in need of care has increased significantly. The laryngectomy operation brings forth a chronic condition which is irreversible. According to Chan, Wong, Ho, Ip, and Tong (1992), the number of admissions to hospitals for treatment of disabilities in 1989 was 233,000. However, government figures reported nearly 270,000 people with disabilities. It is estimated that a great majority of these patients are living in the community and they need support of one kind or another for themselves and for their families, so that they can live as normal a life as possible. Supportive measures for those with disabilities and their families to continue community living are at present either too ad hoc or inadequate.

Self-help Ethos

The continuous development in medical science has extended the life expectancy of many patients. …

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