During this visit, Orajitt Bumrungskulswat from the Heart to Heart Foundation met with IAPO Chair Elect, K.P Tsang who is the Chairman of the Alliance for Patients’ Mutual Help Organizations or (APMHO). APMHO was organizing a celebration for Chinese New Year and the study visit group was invited to participate in the activities at the Hospital Authority.
Whilst in Hong Kong, the Heart to Heart Foundation learned about the work of APMHO. APMHO is a member of IAPO and their mission and vision is in line with the 5 principles of patient-centred healthcare: the right to receive services with respect to the opportunity of choosing services that are appropriate to the individual, patient participation in initiating healthcare policies, access to healthcare and support systems and access to information that is timely, complete and appropriate to the symptoms of the illness and understanding that encompasses cultural factors. APMHO has been involved in the shaping of government policy through membership of advisory committees.
APMHO is working collectively with people in communities and collaborating with various hospitals. APMHO has participated with the Convalescence Hospital group and the Community Rehabilitation network such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, professional nurses and social workers.
An example of the strength of APMHO can be seen in the invitation to become members of the Hospital Authority which also has oversight of Hong Kong State Hospitals. APMHO is therefore able to input into policy making in the development of the service delivery system for cancer patient healthcare at hospitals for improved quality of life for the patients.
Additionally, in Hong Kong there are a large number of self-help groups linked through APMHO. Self-help groups in Hong Kong are groups of patients with similar problems who share their feelings, knowledge and experiences to stimulate self-development. The groups are made up of 100-1,200 members and operate democratically. The groups are legally established and are financially transparent. At present, there are approximately 190 self-help groups in Hong Kong.
The study visit group was very impressed with the story of Mr. Frankie, a member of the support group, who shared the story of his life prior to his involvement with this organization. Mr. Frankie used to work as a civil engineer. He was involved in an accident and was injured on the job by a falling lift. He was operated on numerous times, but despite this, he was left with a permanent disability due to a spinal injury. He became depressed, until a group of friends persuaded him to join the group. Mr. Frankie received treatment until his condition improved and was able to walk with crutches. He is able to help himself using the principles of self-empowerment and group empowerment with the encouragement of the support group. The support group persuaded Mr. Frankie to participate in various activities such as running a marathon in the Paralympic Games, swimming in a fundraising event and participating in other activities to benefit people with disabilities. The principles for group activities are promoting the utilization of an individual’s strengths and collective participation in group activities. He is currently volunteering at the rehabilitation center. He is now pursuing a degree in social welfare in order to become a social worker.