MISSING OUT:Long-term care workers said that subsidies provided to cover costs excluded families who are looking after severely disabled members themselves
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
More than 100 representatives of the National Union of Long-Term Care Development Association and several legislators yesterday gathered at the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan, urging the government to broaden its “long-term care services program 2.0” so that all carers of people with severe disabilities can receive subsidies.
The program aims to expand the provision of long-term care services from about 511,000 people to 738,000 recipients following its implementation next year.
Association representatives — mostly family members of people with severe disabilities — said the 90-hour in-home respite care service is not inclusive enough.
The association said the 90-hour service provides low-income families full subsidies for the provision of care services, low-to-middle-income families 90 percent subsidies and middle-income families 70 percent subsidies.
With professional care services typically costing about NT$200 (US$6.31) per hour, middle-income families can receive about NT12,600 per month toward their costs, but if care is provided by a family member, the family does not qualify for the benefit at all, the association said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said the standards for subsidizing low-income and middle-income households with family members at long-term care facilities in the new program must be reviewed.
Low-income households with a family member at a long-term care facility can receive an NT$18,600 subsidy from the government per month, but that is usually insufficient to cover spending on the provision of care, he said.
“Many of the representatives here have to pay long-term care facilities from NT$30,000 to NT$40,000 per month, and that heavy economic burden has worsened their quality of life almost to the level of a low-income household,” association chairman Tsui Lin-hsiang (崔麟祥) said.
Lawyer Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), said the annual budget for the “long-term care services program 2.0” has been cut from its original target of NT3.3 billion, to the NT$2.08 billion announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and then further reduced to NT$1.78 billion by the Executive Yuan.
He urged the government to evaluate the actual cost of the provision of long-term services to provide for the needs of families caring for members with severe disabilities, and allocate a sufficient budget, and prioritize the care of people with severe disabilities.
Chien Hui-chuan (簡慧娟), the director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Social and Family Affairs Administration, said the new program is designed to offer people more options on long-term care services, as resources in communities are insufficient at present, so much of the budget has been earmarked to address the deficit, including the provision of community health services aimed at preventing diseases or disabilities.
She said the ministry is making an effort to gain more resources to support low-income and low-to-middle income families with people with severe disabilities.