Tue, Nov 12, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Long-term care is a medical issue

By Lo Pin-shan 羅品善

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said that a long-term care services policy is important. The beneficiaries of such services are disabled people — and that injury and disease might cause disability is a topic closely connected to medical care — yet medical care and long-term care are disconnected from each other.

Article 8 of the Long-Term Care Services Act (長期照顧服務法) stipulates: “If long-term care services with healthcare [are] to be undertaken, an opinion must be issued by a physician.”

The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s program for home treatment of disabled people by a family physician offers a more complete long-term treatment by tying medical treatment and long-term care more tightly together.

However, more than 50,000 people received specialized services in the first half of this year, but fewer than 300 clinics were willing to join the program, ministry data showed.

Medical units should participate in providing medical treatment at home and patients in need of such treatment should come forward to let local government medical units see the public need for integrating medical treatment at home with long-term treatment.

After a patient leaves hospital, the hospital waits until they return for a check-up rather than following up on their condition.

Although the Long-term Care 2.0 initiative moves things forward so that a disabled person can receive a disability assessment while still in hospital and make long-term care preparations as early as possible, due to a lack of specialized suggestions for home medical treatment, the timing for rehabilitation is often lost, which could even result in aggravating the disability.

The lack of medical treatment at home leaves the disabled person and their family members helpless after the person has left hospital.

For example, things like cleaning a nasogastric tube, a catheter or other tubing, or providing oxygen can cause problems for family members. Rehabilitation help and adjustments to medication after a patient leaves the hospital require expert suggestions, and assistance by a family physician providing home treatment.

To integrate medical treatment and long-term care, households that need to apply for the program for home treatment of disabled individuals by a family physician can call the long-term care hotline on 1966 or contact their local long-term care center.

Medial units and local long-term care centers should also join the program to help integrate medical treatment with long-term care so that effective medical treatment can be extended to homes and become seamlessly integrated with long-term care services.

Lo Pin-shan is chief executive of Home Clinic Taipei Dulan.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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