More than 30 percent of people with disabilities and elderly people who require assistance to perform activities of daily living have not showered for at least three years, the Sisters of Our Lady of China Catholic Charity Social Welfare Foundation said yesterday.
The group made the remarks at the launch of a countrywide tour to offer bath services to those in need.
The foundation, based in Chiayi County, introduced Japan’s mobile bath service and technology into Taiwan in 2008 and has helped more than 300 families in the county.
The group raised sufficient funds through public donations last year to purchase two of the latest bathing vehicles, equipped with bath facilities, and are having a “thank-you tour” of the country to raise awareness of the bathing needs of disabled and elderly people and to call on local governments to place the issue on the agenda.
Sister Chen Mei-hui (陳美惠), chairwoman of the foundation, said that people suffering from long-term disabilities and their family care providers often feel helpless when it comes to bathing.
“The body odor resulting from ‘bath deprivation’ can cause psychological stress to family members, who face various obstacles in assisting loved ones to take a bath, and the disabled and elderly themselves, who often feel embarrassed,” she said.
The foundation’s survey on families which have received help with bath services shows that 60 percent of family members consider bathing the most challenging of all care tasks, foundation chief executive officer Li Shih-hung (黎世宏) said.
“More than 90 percent of those polled said they would feel unhappy and stressed if they could not help their family members take a bath,” Li added.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare estimates that more than 780,000 people with disabilities will require assistance to perform daily activities by 2016, Li said.
The problem of bathing care is likely to be exacerbated by a shortage of care providers and of bathing facilities, the foundation said.
For this reason, the foundation is raising funds to launch a training program called “bathing care classroom,” in which bathing skills and equipment, tailored to home-based bathing, institution-based bathing and visiting bathing services, are introduced and lessons provided.
“We are hoping to spread knowledge and skills more widely to help more people who need assistance with ADLs regain their dignity and happiness,” Li said.