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Long-term care system should address urban-rural gap, regional needs

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As Taiwan becomes an aging society, the government is aiming to provide elder care services comparable to the National Health Insurance (NHI) system so that every senior citizen can have access to basic, dignified care, Premier Lin Chuan said today.

While visiting the PRO Elderly Care Home in Taitung County, the premier said senior care services should be available early on in the aging process, and that the government will create a comprehensive care system that addresses the urban-rural divide and the needs of each region. The home, which offers a comfortable and spacious environment, has produced positive results that the government can learn from, the premier said. He chose to visit this facility because it is different from those in other regions, as it is located in rural eastern Taiwan and many of the seniors that go there are members of indigenous tribes. The urban-rural gap, regional characteristics, and many other issues must all be addressed by the government when promoting the long-term care 2.0 plan.

Taiwan is an aging society with a low birth rate, so the responsibility of caring for the elderly should not rest solely on children, but should be shared by society through a common mechanism, Premier Lin said. The lack of systematized long-term care services in the past has necessitated the national long-term care 2.0 plan.

Before promoting the 2.0 plan, however, the government must create a long-term care industry and create a work force that can build business networks. The long-term care industry is still young at present, so the government has enacted the Long-term Care Services Act to help grow the industry, the premier said.

The government hopes to make elder care services available early on in the aging process and include the needs of aging people into the overall care system, Premier Lin continued. Just like the NHI system, basic elder care protections are based on human rights—everyone is entitled to basic and dignified care as they grow older, just as everyone is entitled to seek medical treatment when they become ill. The government will provide free basic elder care to disadvantaged groups, while middle- and high-income earners desiring more than basic care can pay for the service themselves.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the government will continue to help cities and counties develop quality, affordable and accessible long-term care service networks. These community-based networks will allow people everywhere to find and receive care right in their own neighborhoods.

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