Timothy Ma Kam-Wah

Senior Citizen Home Safety Association
Year founded: 
Hong Kong SAR

SCHSA provides care and services for the elderly and needy population in Hong Kong, including a 24-hour emergency service.

Focus: Disabilities, Health, Technology, Home Care Support Service
Geographic Area of Impact: People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong, Macau and China)
Australia, Singapore
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 173,500 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 12.4 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 80%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Asia, 2009

In early 1996, a prolonged cold spell in Hong Kong led to the death of more than 150 unattended senior citizens, a tragedy that raised public concern for the safety of elderly people. Due to medical advances today, people are living longer and the ageing population is increasing. The number of older people living alone in Asia is also rising due to a shift in social and family values, indicating an increasing need for total care services among those aged 65 and over.

Innovation and Activities
Through information technology and communication systems, SCHSA provides senior citizens and those in need with 24-hour lifeline assistance. In addition to emergency and notification services, it also includes social services, social support networks and consulting services for people with elderly family members requiring special arrangements.

The SCHSA 24-hour Personal Emergency Link system caters to the elderly living alone in Hong Kong. Subscribers simply press a remote trigger on their alarm system to contact an operator, who identifies and assesses their needs. In case of an emergency, staff will notify ambulance services, the appropriate hospital and family members to ensure prompt assistance. The Elder Ring Hotline is attended by professional social workers and trained volunteers, and provides telephone contact, emotional support, short-term counselling and referral services free-of-charge.

To date, SCHSA has trained and mobilized +1,200 volunteers, who help with the Elder Ring Hotline, home and hospital visitations, and blanket deliveries. Public services also include the distribution of Golden Age magazine, a monthly publication for senior citizens containing information on daily living in Hong Kong. Charity Case Management, the fundraising arm of SCHSA, targets needs-based individuals, and 20% of SCHSA customers receive a lifetime Personal Emergency Link subscription at no charge.

In responding to the emerging demand for home support and care service, the association has started Easy Home Service, another Social Enterprise Project, to render on-demand home support and care service to hundreds of the needy elderly and families. More than 1,000 middle-aged Easy Home Service Teammates have been trained to address the required services of those subscribers.

The Entrepreneur
Timothy Ma Kam Wah was appointed Executive Director of SCHSA upon its inception in 1996. Since then he has been implementing the organization’s vision, developing current and future services, and expanding its model in partnership with local governments in Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Macau and Shenzhen. He has been appointed by the government to serve on these public committees concerned with elderly and social welfare issues: Elderly Commission, Social Welfare Advisory Committee, Guardianship Board, Town Planning Board, e-Health Partnership Task Force, and the Users and Customer Advisory Committee on Telecommunications. He was recently appointed as the only overseas board member of the Centre for Enabled Living, a functioning arm of Singapore MCYS, to render elderly related services.