Mr Li Ka-shing’s Open letter to
Everyone Serving the “Heart of Gold” Hospice Service Programme
(Hong Kong, 28 April 2014) Cancer takes away over 10,000 lives in Hong Kong each year. Facing death and enduring pain, many cancer patients are overpowered by the emotional stress and pain induced by physically demanding treatments; its combined effects induce hopelessness and depression.
Doctors and patients share the same human characteristic of being affected by the cancer experience. Imbued in sadness, treating cancer is a stressful and physically demanding experience — public awareness and support are important to reinforce the good work many doctors and health service providers are serving in our community.
Since 2007, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and the Foundation established the “Heart of Gold” Programme to relieve suffering when recovery is beyond hope. Over the years, a team of healthcare professionals, volunteers and partners has provided care, love and respect for around 27,000 terminally ill cancer patients.
Last Friday, Mr Li Ka-shing, Chairman of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, took out a full-paged advertisement for an open thank you letter to the wonderful men and women whose laudable dedication made the hospice service possible.
Mr Li, in a luncheon hosted for the partnering organisations of the “Heart of Gold” Programme, said, “Hospice care gives comfort and hope where only anguish and sorrow are apparent, we must encourage such meaningful work and offer help where it is needed.”
Professor John C Y Leong, Chairman of the Hospital Authority, thanked Mr Li for his contribution towards the betterment of the public healthcare services in Hong Kong, especially this hospice programme which benefits numerous needy patients and their families.
To date, the Foundation’s donation of over HKD126 million, along with the Hospital Authority’s matching fund, have administered more than 230,000 service attendances, provided training for hospice ambassadors and successfully recruited volunteers which accounted for a total of 2,700 persons, delivered around 50,000 psychosocial sessions and provided bereavement support for around 2,000 children and more than 1,300 families.
Ten Years of Commitment, Revolutionising Hospice Care
The warmth sent from one compassionate soul to another in time of grief can provide a renewed sense of hope, comfort and love. Over the years, the hospice staff have taken up roles as guardian angels, bringing a positive difference to the suffering. Their work is imbued with sadness yet providing care and respect to these patients and their families have re-instilled dignity in death.
Throughout the years, LKSF’s “Heart of Gold” Programme has played a catalytic role in putting together different non-governmental programmes with related social organisations to augment the effective use of resources in providing palliative care services.
Under Phase I of the Programme, the Foundation donated HKD42 million to initiate reform in existing public hospice services. Eight Hospice Centres were established to integrate comfortable home-like atmosphere with convenient access to professional care, equipment and expertise, social and psychological support resources in a holistic one-stop hub.
In October 2010, under Phase II, the Foundation donated HKD42.5 million to continue the services in the existing eight centres and establish additional two Hospice Centres and set up a “Hospice Home” website. And with a donation of HKD42 million in October last year, the Programme stepped into Phase III with HKD36 million to continue the services in HA as well as the addition of an integrated app and increased partnership with non-governmental social organisations. In the next three years, the Foundation seeks to involve more participants and bolster community outreach programmes in an effort to strengthen and create greater awareness for palliative care services.
In collaboration with the Hospital Authority, structured training will be continued for volunteers. The Foundation foresees the cumulative trained “Hospice Service Ambassadors” to be more than 700.
Love Can Carry You Through
The Foundation’s “Heart of Gold” Hospice Service is a Programme particularly dear to Mr Li Ka-shing. When he witnessed the pain his affluent friend suffered through cancer, he imagined how much worse the experience could be for the underprivileged. In 1998, Mr Li established the first hospice service centre at the First Affiliated Hospital of Shantou University Medical College in Shantou, Guangdong to provide patients with pain alleviation services and bereavement support to family members. To date, the Hospice Service Programme in the Mainland has established 32 centres, and provided services to over 16,000 patients each year, benefiting tens of thousands families, with a cumulative donation of RMB476 million. The programme was extended to Hong Kong in 2007 to set up 10 hospice centres in public hospitals. Total donation to the programmes in the Mainland and Hong Kong so far amounts to HKD620 million.
Appendix：A Little Sharing
Cancer is unpredictable. In 2012, Mr Lau, battling with terminal cancer, had been bedridden for two weeks. His legs began to deteriorate and his body weakened day after day. Mr Lau’s young boy and wife could only watch and wait helplessly, consumed by grief. The hospice programme at the Princess Margaret Hospital referred Mr Lau to palliative care where “Hospice Service Ambassadors” nurse Lai and Mr Cheung helped set up a farewell party. Though it seemed the act was not much, the party was three valuable hours of diversion to temporarily let go of mourning and heartache. The team at palliative care also provided emotional counselling to Mr Lau’s family and through simple activities and games, helped Mr Lau’s young boy comprehend death and find ways to grieve. When Mr Lau passed away, what Mrs Lau will always cherish is that despite the pain she knew her husband to be in, at the night of the party, he smiled from his heart. And for the young boy, what he will never forget is his father’s stern and courageous stature when he reminded him to always live with kindness.
Grief does not come in stages, it is messy and confusing. No amount of time can prepare for the pain of loss. Alex and Fanny had been married for 15 years with two children. When Fanny was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and departed a year later, Alex’s grief engulfed him. He spent his days reminiscing on Fanny’s life and riffling through memorabilia of their life together. When nurse Wong of the hospice care programme at Queen Elizabeth Hospital heard of his story, she reached out to Alex’s family and lent an ear and a helping hand. She encouraged them to join bereavement counselling groups, where the sharing can help the newly bereaved learn acceptance, cope with loss, and re-emerge into new life. Alex has now returned to his job and role as a parent.
The importance of hospice care sometimes can be most recognised by the friends of the bereaved. Chan Hong-ling’s experience motivated her to receive formal training to become a “Hospice Service Ambassador” under the art therapy programme. Art therapy is a form of emotional healing where volunteers guide patients through hands on painting and crafts making. One of her most memorable experiences, Chan Hong-ling recalls, was when she successfully persuaded a camera shy patient to take some 10 photos for his family members to treasure and keep. Everyone has the right to live with positivity and dignity at every turn of their lives. Hospice care brightens up these dark corners and turns even the end of life into an important time of living.
1. Mr Li Ka-shing shares his views with healthcare professionals on the “Heart of Gold” hospice service programme.
2. Mr Li takes a group photo with healthcare professionals and partners of the “Heart of Gold” hospice service programme.
3. Professor John C Y Leong thanks Mr Li for his contribution towards the betterment of the public healthcare services in Hong Kong.
4. The advertisement of “Your Love Brightens Up Life”
About the Li Ka Shing Foundation
Established in 1980 by Mr. Li Ka-shing, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has three strategic focuses: nurture a new culture of giving; support education reform initiatives; and advance medical research and services. Mr Li considers the Foundation to be his “third son” and has pledged one-third of his assets to it. With initiatives spread over 19 countries, LKSF supports projects that promote social progress through expanding access to quality education and medical services and research, encouraging cultural diversity and community involvement. Since its inception, LKSF has granted over HK$14.5 billion, approximately 90% of which benefit projects in the Greater China region.
For more information, please visit: http://www.lksf.org.
For inquiries, please contact:
Li Ka Shing Foundation
Mr Jeremy Lau
Tel: +852-2128 1207
Fax: +852-2128 1766