The Bureau of Social Affairs of Taichung City Government held the “Vision 2025 City Forum” themed as “Aging-Free Taichung in Motion”. Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-Lung, Chief Operation Offier Lee Chu-Huan of Stans Foundation Chinese Consumer Center, and Yael Benvenisti of Israel were invited to the occasion for sharing the topic of home care in an aging society. The city government will integrate all welfare policies for the advocacy of the “full-range care of the elderly” and the “full-range care of the children” policies in Taichung with the proper use of social welfare budget through social investment and an innovative perspective. The purpose is to allow for the peace of mind of all Taichung residents at any age in a homely “aging-free society”, said Mayor Lin.
The “Vision 2025 City Forum” was unveiled on November 22. Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-Lung, Director-General of the Bureau of Social Affairs of Taichung Lu Chien-Teh, Managing Director Lee Sai of the Health Magazine, and a number of scholars and experts were present. Mayor Lin was invited to present a keynote speech on the topic of “Aging-Free Taichung in Motion”. Chief Operation Offier Lee Chu-Huan of Stans Foundation Chinese Consumer Center delivered a speech titled “Guide to the Daily Lives of the Elderly”. Representative of Israel, Yael Benvenisti, shared here “International Experience of Israel” with the audiences in her speech.
According to the statistics released by the United Nations, people at the age of 100 increased four-fold in the last 25 years. By 2-25, people at the age of 100 will be a population of 1 million. Taiwan will also be a “ultra-aging society” in 8 years. The rapid change in the demographic structure will be an issue confronting the individuals and city as a whole.
In Taiwan, the challenges of an aging society and the declining number of children to parents resulted in high pressure of home care for most families. The effort of the government alone could not efficiently deal with the problem in the long run, as it dictates for large sum of government expenditure. Likewise, the effort from the private sector through market mechanism will make the social vulnerable groups even more vulnerable to abandonment by the society. As such, the government hopes to integrate all welfare measures to advocate the people-oriented policies of “full-range care for the elderly” and “full-range care for the children” with the proper use of social welfare budget through social investment and an innovative perspective particularly in the area of welfare for the elderly, said Mayor Lin.
The issues of releasing gratuity for the elderly on the Double Ninth Festival and subsidy for the national health insurance for the elderly have been extensively discussed recently. In Taichung, the policy of “full-range care for the elderly” provides all services that the elderly need including the elderly in good health, sub-healthy status, and minor disability. The elderly could live longer and in better quality of living. In the future, the people in Taiwan are expected to enjoy healthy aging lives that do not need to reply on bed resting or hospitalization for most of their lives at the old age. With the sharing of experience with other countries, this city forum helps to make Taichung an “aging-free society” irrespective of the age of people to live a life with the peace of mind.
The central government has launched the long-term care 2.0 program. Yet, there is a scarcity of personnel in the regions in general for this purpose. The city government hopes to increase the salaries and improve their work environment for the personnel in this profession, as these people help the families to take care of the elderly and really have the “Buddhist Heart”. This is particularly the case for the elderly who need prolonged bed resting and cannot take care of their daily lives. This group of people must be professionals with patience and kind heart, said Mayor Lin.
In addition, the city government also unveiled a system for keeping the patients company when discharged from hospital. This is a seamless connection between hospital service and the households. For the elderly in good health, the city government provides them an environment of learning and eating together in company. For the elderly in poverty, the city government provides them proper home care. In supporting the caring of the elderly 2.0 program, Taichung also established 2.0 locations and will establish more locations for the caring of the elderly so as to mitigate the burden of the families.
Taichung has already rearranged its budget of NT$3~4 billion for the welfare of the elderly for the proper appropriation of annuity for the elderly. Under the new policy, more funding will be allocated to subsidy the elderly at the age of 65 or higher with low to moderate level of income, households of low to moderate level of income and seniors of low income level in national health insurance. The policy targets at the needs of the social vulnerable group. This policy could help to save more than NT$ 1billion for allocating to the system of the “full-range care for the elderly”. This way of resource allocation will be justifiable for long-term care of the people, said Mayor Lin.
The act of Taichung City Government in allocating the subsidy of national health insurance to other welfares of the elderly was applauded by Lee Sai, the Managing Director of the Health Magazine. He held that the move of Mayor Lin from translating the idea of social investment into a policy is sound and foresighted. It is not just a policy of the caring of the elderly from the perspective of a city.
As in the issue of the release of gift bonus for the elderly in the Double Ninth Festival, Mayor Lin suggested that governments of different cities and counties are conditioned by different financial positions. “How much money is not the point, it is earnestness that matters”. The government will spare no effort for this cause. Indeed, caring service for the elderly deserves more budget money. This also helps to create more jobs and make the elderly feel the warmth of the service environment.
According to the Bureau of Social Affairs of Taichung, Mayor Lin applied the concept of social investment for rearranging the subsidy for national health insurance so as to appropriate more resources for the vulnerable group of elderly. The budget being saved in the rearrangement will be used for bolstering 7 areas of services for the elderly, including Long-term care 2.0, subsidy of denture for the elderly, subsidy for bus service for the elderly, continuing education program for the elderly, community meal service improvement program, installation of food centers for the elderly, training of personnel for home care of the elderly. These help to meet the needs of the elderly and upgrade the service quality of care under the international mentality of caring of the elderly and through a full-range and diversified welfare program.