Jockey Club Launches Multi-disciplinary Long COVID Rehabilitation Programme

The Hong Kong Jockey Club announced today (29 September) the launch of the “Jockey Club Long COVID Rehabilitation Programme” with an approved donation of over HK$100 million from its Charities Trust. A collaboration with NGOs, this multi-disciplinary post COVID-19 rehabilitation programme aims to provide support to people recovering from COVID-19, especially to vulnerable groups in the community.

Evidence shows that some recovered patients experience medium or long-term symptoms known as “post COVID-19 conditions”, also commonly called “long COVID”. As defined by the World Health Organization, these symptoms occur three months after COVID-19 infection and persist for two months or longer.

The fifth wave of COVID-19 began in the first quarter of the year and as of the end of September over 1.7 million confirmed cases had been reported in Hong Kong. It is expected that there will be growing demand for long COVID rehabilitation services in the second half of this year. Long COVID may adversely affect quality of life, particularly for vulnerable groups, including those in residential care homes for the elderly, the chronically ill, and others in need.

“Clinical research on COVID-19 continues to advance, where one of the most pressing needs is to help COVID-survivors better manage the effects of long COVID. Adopting a primary care framework, this novel programme aims to lend support to residents of care homes as well as those in the general community, particularly the more vulnerable and disadvantaged. Coverage will be broadened as widely as possible through the deployment of digital support for self-management. The Club believes that this programme would help the community overcome the public health challenge of COVID sequelae such that Hong Kong can emerge stronger and better,” said Dr Gabriel Leung, the Club’s Executive Director of Charities and Community.

Targeting different long COVID rehabilitation needs, the Jockey Club Long COVID Rehabilitation Programme consists of three support services and is being implemented in phases starting from September 2022. Approximately 40,000 people will benefit from the direct services provided, and 30,000 from a digital self-management app and website. For more details, please see the attached fact sheet.

Community Support Services
Organised in partnership with eight NGOs with designated centres in 12 districts, this one-year pilot programme adopts a case-management approach based on an individual’s situation. Customised care plans with rehabilitation goals for up to 12 weeks are being provided to 10,000 eligible individuals with long COVID. Vulnerable groups are given priority.

The NGOs are: Aberdeen Kai-fong Welfare Association, Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service – Hong Kong, Haven of Hope Christian Service, Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association, St. James’ Settlement, The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon and United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service.

Support Services for Elderly Homes
Residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), especially private homes with limited resources, have been hard hit by the fifth wave of the pandemic. To help recovered COVID-19 patients with long COVID in these homes, five NGOs are implementing a one-year pilot project, consisting of a series of 12-week multi-disciplinary programmes. The Hong Kong Association of Gerontology will also conduct capacity-building programmes for RCHE staff so they can provide better care for recovered residents. In addition, a support programme for other residents will provide psychosocial training and nutrition programmes.

The NGOs are: Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council, Hong Kong Association of Gerontology, Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service – Hong Kong, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and Hong Kong Christian Service.

Self-management Support Services
In view of diverse rehabilitation needs, and drawing on the success of overseas digital self-management tools, the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care of The Chinese University of Hong Kong has launched an app to provide useful tips and advice to individuals suffering from long COVID (users can also use the website version).

The self-management app supports and encourages recovered patients to establish healthier lifestyles to alleviate the impact of long COVID. It assists them to formulate rehabilitation goals, recommends cross-disciplinary programmes, and helps them monitor their physical and/or psychological progress over time. Teaching resources developed by experts such as nurses, Chinese medicine practitioners, physiotherapists and more, guide users on how to effectively manage different long COVID symptoms. More information is available on the website.

The Club’s support for these programmes, like all of its charity donations, is made possible by its unique integrated business model through which racing and wagering generate tax and charity support for the community. Since February 2020 the Club’s Charities Trust has approved over HK$2.9 billion in pandemic-related initiatives. Cumulatively these have benefited more than three million people. Adopting a ‘speedy’, ‘targeted’ and ‘innovative’ approach, the Club has provided fast-track funding to meet urgent needs and collaborated with partners to devise new ways to reach out to and support the most vulnerable.

Read the full details here.