Getting old can bring senior health challenges. As a person ages, one is far more likely to develop more than one long-term health issue that requires ongoing medical attention and care. In the context of global ageing population, there will be a greater need for healthcare professionals as well as family caregivers to acquire knowledge and skills in taking care of the increasingly complex chronic health conditions of older persons. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust approved HK$24 million to launch the “Jockey Club CADENZA e-tools for elder care” (the Programme) in 2018. The project is a five-year initiative that aims at keeping the most updated information of elder care for caregivers, as well as raising public awareness.
Taking care of frail older people, in particular, requires knowledge in both fields of health as well as social care. Such skills are particularly required to meet the challenges of ageing population using medico-social integration models, which are being advocated and developed all over the world. Nowadays, family caregivers are increasingly taking up the task of providing long-term care for their relatives at home as far as possible. In many cases, family caregivers provide essential services, and operate as front-line health service providers. They would surely benefit from acquiring knowledge regarding principles of care as well as practical skills.
A lot of the frail elders are coping with one or more of the following chronic health conditions such as heart conditions, pneumonia, dementia, delirium, incontinence, frequent falls which may end up in fractures, depression, weight loss, sleep problems, and thinner skin which can lead to tears or wounds that heal very slowly. The list of chronic health conditions in their care can seem overwhelming. However, with proper care and support, our frail elders can still lead a life filled with joy and dignity.
There are a lot to consider when it comes to health problems of frail elders, and deciding where to start can be challenging. In order to fit in with the new communication era, the Programme, supported by the CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing, will be developed as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and micro modules. Understanding health problems of older people can be demanding, but we try to narrow it down to the essentials. The training mode will be scenario-based, with interactive online training material. CADENZA training material will serve as a base, and will be enhanced with the latest development of care to the elders. The Programme is open to anyone, but will be of particular relevance to professionals and caregivers who are involved in caring older persons with common health problems. Both MOOC and micro modules will be set up at a dedicated website and a mobile app. Caregivers can then update their knowledge with their mobile devices anywhere at any time.
Furthermore, the objective of the Programme is to enable professionals to understand how they use their knowledge in practical situations, and how they can combine practice and learning in a more effective way in healthcare of frail elders. We will provide practical tips and real life demonstration for both formal and informal caregivers so that they can easily pick up cues in their process of learning. Nonetheless, the Programme aims to develop learners’ appreciation of a person-centered approach to care that will enable them to examine how people should be best supported as they age.