Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Care facilities lack core IT resources, group says

GETTING OLDER A welfare group argues that as the nation's population ages, senior citizens' centers will need to update their information technology systems

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's assisted-care facilities for the elderly lack the vital information technology (IT) resources which could improve the quality of seniors citizens' healthcare amid an aging population nationwide, a welfare group for the elderly said.

Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), executive secretary of the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly, told a press conference attended by government officials, professors and assisted care professionals to address the problem.

According to a nationwide survey conducted by the federation on assisted-care facilities for the elderly, the Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) database and other government IT services for such facilities fell short of the ability to process and store information on employees and clients and manage day-to-day operations.

"The development of IT resources for the elderly is stuck in a bottleneck," Wu said, adding that "with 10 percent of our total population aged 65 or older, and with our elderly population set to grow further, we need to improve our IT-based health services for senior citizens."

However, as Wu indicated, much of the problem lies in the assisted-care facilities, which, based on the survey, expressed little interest in investing in IT systems that would enhance their operations.

"Many of these facilities' computers are outdated and ill-equipped to handle better, faster software that could benefit them," said Lu Hsiao-chieh (盧小杰), a conference speaker and social worker with the Hang-an Nursing Care Network.

Lu added that instead of designing and distributing IT resources to individual facilities, the government should put out a "core program" that could be customized by facilities for specific needs.

Hsiao Su-chun (蕭夙君), director of a home for the elderly in Taoyuan County, said that their computers often freeze when employees try to link up to the MOI database.

The database could be useful in emergencies as it would give her access to other facilities' contact information as well as that of clients' families, Hsiao added.

Chou Chung-he (周中和), an IT consultant who services homes for the elderly, meanwhile, said that freezing computers is a common problem for assisted-care facilities that try to access the MOI's public domain services.

"Among the facilities that I've been to, nobody wants to use the ministry's system because it's a hassle. Also, the employees at such facilities aren't particularly savvy IT users, so more user-friendly systems and software are needed," Chou said.

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