Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Hospital urges action to improve long-term care

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Only 14 out of the more than 1,000 long-term care facilities in the nation are ranked as first-rate institutions by the government, Saint Mary’s Hospital Luodong superintendent Chen Yong-shing (陳永興) said yesterday, citing a government study.

According to a 2010 evaluation conducted by the Ministry of the Interior, only 1 percent of the 1,033 nursing homes or long-term care facilities in Taiwan are rated as excellent, Chen said, adding that the average waiting time for a bed in these institutions is three months.

He said a shortage of certified long-term carers and nurses was the main cause of the low quality of these facilities and prevented them from improving their services.

Chen called on the government to solve the problem by enacting measures such as amending laws to encourage or require corporations to invest in long-term care facilities or establishing a mechanism to offer financial aid to medical students who decided to enter the field.

“In Yilan County, there were 299 new nurses in one year, but 209 left the workforce during the same time,” he said. “For instance, Saint Mary’s Hospital Luodong [in the county’s Luodong Township (羅東)] is 89 nurses short, 21 percent of the total number of nurses it needs. At one time, more staff were quitting than being hired.”

The shortage has had a domino effect on the hospital’s hospice rooms, with “seven beds closed due to a lack of nurses,” Chen said.

Long-term carers are in high demand as well. The Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training trains about 6,000 long-term carers every year, but the turnover rate is as high as 70 percent, he said.

“A lot of nurses and carers leave due to a stressful and poorly equipped work environment and low salary,” Chen said, urging the new Ministry of Health and Welfare to pass the long-term care services draft act to improve the quality of healthcare services for the rapidly growing elderly population.

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