Fri, Sep 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ko has not improved care for disabled: groups

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks to reporters at an award ceremony organized by Rotary International in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has failed to fulfill his electoral promises to introduce community care and new crisis management services for mentally ill and disabled people, groups said yesterday.

Representatives of the Taipei Life of Heart Association, Republic of China Mental Rehabilitation Association and several other groups gave failing grades to Ko, saying that he has not provided substantial improvements in home care and community support for families, and has focused instead on new daycare centers.

“We absolutely have not had a sense that service has increased,” Taipei Life of Heart Association director-general Chin Lin (金林) said, citing a lack of “breathing space” for temporary home care services for families of mentally disabled people and of long-term plans to provide government-sponsored care when parents are unable to shoulder the burden.

“Taking people to a doctor and prescribing medicine is the foundation of effective treatment, but understanding their everyday needs is even more important,” she said, adding that emergency services and follow-up treatment in addition to forced hospitalization were crucial to patients who pose a potential threat to themselves or others.

Republic of China Mental Rehabilitation Association member Lee Chun-yi (李淳一) called for medical teams to provide direct home care and assistance for several days when possible, instead of resorting to two-month forced hospitalizations in crisis cases.

“Right now, the intervention is the hospitalization, but there is no assistance or follow-up before or afterward,” Chin said, adding that providing new long-term care options is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed, as many patients are aging.

“The problem is that there exist two separate systems — one for the physically disabled and another for those with mental disorders,” Chin said.

“If your knees have problems and you need to use a wheelchair or have severe diabetes, mental institutions will reject you, because they do not have the resources to provide adequate care, but retirement homes also refuse to accept mentally disabled people, creating a situation where they have nowhere to go,” Chin said.

Taipei Department of Social Welfare Deputy Commissioner Huang Ching-kao (黃清高) said that the department was in the process of expanding life and family support for mentally disabled people, including opening a new daycare center next year.

“Many people feel that the government’s response is disproportionate, because they wish for services that can provide care 24/7, but our position is that patients should have a place to go during the day and return home at night,” he said.

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