The 10-year long-term care (LTC) plan introduced by the government in 2007 lags behind schedule and is not in good shape, lawmakers told the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday.
The long-term care plan was designed to help Taiwan weather an anticipated crisis caused by a rapidly aging society, with the elderly projected to account for an estimated 14.6 percent of the population in 2018 and 20 percent in 2025, and an increase in the number of people with disabilities, which is expected to reach 1.21 million in 2031.
Under the plan, home and community-based and institutional LTC services are to be provided to those who need assistance to perform activities of daily living, including people who are 65 and older, Aborigines living in mountainous areas aged 55 and older, people with disabilities over 50 and elderly people who only need help with crucial daily activities, but who live alone.
However, while the plan is now well into its sixth year, lawmakers questioned the success of its implementation, saying that there are loopholes and unfinished work even in the first stage of the plan, which was supposed to be completed by 2011.
The first stage entails building elementary facilities and infrastructure for future service distribution, and training professional care workers.
To cater for the rising number of elderly people who need the service, about 30,000 more caregivers have to be operational by 2016, Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) said that only 30 percent of government-trained caregivers are delivering long-term care services, and the majority of them work in institutions and hospitals, showing that few are willing to be employed as home-based long-term care service providers.
“As the report by the Council of Labor Affairs shows, the outflow of [home-based] caregivers has a lot to do with the hard work and poor working conditions. They are paid hourly, in contrast to the stable monthly salaries paid by institutions and hospitals,” said Wang, who added that the current hourly wage of NT$180 should be increased.
Chen urged the government to consider the feasibility of keeping the accreditations of institutional and home-based long-term care services apart, which would then generate two separate pools of caregivers, instead of ending up with a lopsided distribution of human resources.