Taiwan's labor ministry allocates funds to launch respite care services


(By Central News Agency)

The Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Wednesday approved an allocation of NT$182 million (NT$4.79 million) to start a government service that will provide short-term relief for primary caregivers.

In a meeting of MOL, the ministry agreed to allocate the money from its Employment Stability Fund to implement a respite care plan proposed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) Sept. 20.

The allocation of NT$182 million constitutes 50 percent of the estimated annual amount to run the plan, which is expected to benefit about 28,000 families in Taiwan, according to Hsueh Chien-chung (薛鑑忠), a section chief in the MOL's Workforce Development Agency.

In line with a proposed amendment to the existing regulations for the respite care program, applicants with family members who are severely disabled or those who have limited support, such as individuals who live alone or whose primary caregiver is over 70 years old, will be eligible to obtain government-funded short-term relief.

According to the plan, the government will fully fund respite care services for low-income households. For middle-low-income and general households, the government will subsidize 95 percent and 84 percent of the cost, respectively.

Some 32,000 respite caregivers have already been recruited in preparation for the launch of the program, probably in October, according to Chou Tao-chun (周道君), an official in the MOHW Long- term Care Services Division.

The MOHW proposed the revision of relevant regulations to expand and subsidize respite care so that foreign primary caregivers could have adequate time off.

Currently, families that employ foreign caregivers are eligible to apply for respite care services only if the primary caregiver will be off work for more than a month.