Chunghwa Post said that before it could branch out into the adult day-care business to generate additional revenue, a number of challenges must first be overcome.
The company was responding to a suggestion last month from the Legislative Yuan to establish a paid service to help take care of elderly people and raise extra revenue for the firm.
The company has about 1,300 branches and 9,000 mail carriers nationwide. From 2009, about one-fifth of its carriers volunteered to deliver mail and packages, run errands or do grocery shopping for senior citizens who live alone.
Last month, lawmakers from the legislature’s Transportation Committee recommended that Chunghwa Post follow the example of Japan Post.
The Japanese postal firm introduced a support service for the elderly, in which postal workers would visit the homes of elderly service subscribers and ask about their health on a trial basis in October in the cities of Hokkaido, Miyagi, Yamanashi, Ishikawa, Okayama and Nagasaki.
In Japan, the monthly charge for the service is ￥1,050 (US$ 10.2), which covers one home visit per month and includes invitations to lunches held at post offices.
The company also plans other services for elderly people, including a 24-hour telephone consultation line, grocery shopping support and safety confirmation checks.
Chunghwa Post president Wang Chang (王昌) said the staff are scheduled to visit Japan Post this month to check out its new mail-sorting equipment.
The delegation would also find out more about how the Japanese postal firm manages the elderly care service.
“Unlike Japan Post,” Wang said, “Chunghwa’s postal workers have been visiting the elderly and doing grocery shopping for them on a voluntary basis.”
Wang said there has to be a legal basis for the company to charge for money for similar services, adding that the way in which the company charges subscribers must be open to public discussion.
The company would also need to hire additional workers to offer a 24-hour telephone consultation service, he said.
Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation chief executive Doris Lin (林依瑩) said post offices nationwide could function as an elderly care network.
While Lin applauded the efforts of post offices to care for senior citizens, she said that care needs to be provided in a more systematic way in terms of the number of visits and duration of time spent with each elderly person.