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Legislator urges senior care bill passage

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee today will review the Long-term Care Services for Senior Citizens bill for the first time. Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chiang Huei-chen (江惠貞) yesterday urged the ruling and opposition parties to reach a consensus on the issue and pass the bill as soon as possible.

Chiang said that as Taiwan gradually becomes an aging society, it is essential to establish a law that specifically safeguards care services for senior citizens as soon as possible.

KMT lawmaker Yang Yu-hsin (楊玉欣) said the issue of long-term care services is not just an issue for individual families, but one that would have ramifications on the whole country's competitiveness.

Yang said that, according to statistics, a long-term caregiver on average takes care of an individual for over 10 years, and over 16 hours a day, noting that it is not easy for a caregiver to find time for an uninterrupted four hours of sleep. She went on to say that statistics show that 87 percent of long-term caregivers suffer from psychasthenia, a disorder triggered by excessive anxiety.

Yang added that the bill therefore will not only include benefits for senior citizens that require protections under the law, but also aspects that take the health and welfare of caregivers into account.

Bill Includes Consultations for Foreign Caregivers

The Department of Nursing and Health Care (DNH), under the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), said that according to statistics, over 206,376 foreign workers are serving as caregivers in the nation. The DNH added that the bill proposal includes consultation services for foreign caregivers.

Apart from the bill for Long-term Care Service for Senior Citizens, the MHW said it will propose legislation regarding insurance policies for long-term care services in 2014.

Teng Su-wen (鄧素文), commissioner of the DNH, said since the government launched a scheme for long-term care service 10 years ago, over 130,000 senior citizens have been served, a number representing 30 percent of all disabled senior citizens in the country.

Increase of 20,000 Disabled Seniors Annually

Teng said that, according to government statistics, the number of disabled senior citizens will increase annually by over 20,000, noting that the issue cannot be handled by launching a scheme, but should instead be regulated by the law, thus the bill must be passed as soon as possible, “the issue cannot wait any longer.”

MHW Deputy Minister Tseng Chung-ming (曾中明) said setting up the scheme is the first stage for the government to take care of the nation's elderly people, noting that the second stage is to pass the bill in order to incorporate the service centers and regulations for caregivers. Tseng noted that the government is also aiming to establish an insurance policy regarding the long-term care service issue.

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