Starting on January 1, Taiwanese families will be allowed to hire foreign caregivers only if sick or elderly family members are proven to need 24-hour care and no domestic caregiver can fill the position.
The Council of Labor Affairs (勞委會) announced the new policy change yesterday.
Under the new policy, local caregivers will be given priority and the Barthel-Index, which measures the level of a patient's disability, will be used only as a reference for deciding the need to hire a foreign caregiver.
Taiwanese families that intend to hire foreign caregivers must have their family members assessed by a hospital in order to prove that 24-hour care is required.
The Director-general of the Employment and Vocational Training Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) said that under the old policy, the Barthel-Index was used to determine if a foreign caregiver was needed and only when patients scored lower than 30 on the scale could their families qualify to hire foreign helpers.
Kuo said that some families really needed to hire a foreign caregiver but could not because the patient scored higher than 30 on the index. In order to hire foreign caregivers, some families asked doctors to fake the score on the Barthel-Index, he said.
Hwang Mei-nah, a Department of Health official, said that under the new policy, there will teams of professionals at the 162 hospitals in Taiwan that have been appointed by the DOH to decided whether or not a patient needs 24-hour care.
Hwang said each team will include at least one doctor and at least one other medical professionals to evaluate the patient. Under the old policy, one doctor evaluated the patient.
He said that if the patient is unable to visit the hospital, the team would visit his or her home.
If a patient is found to need 24-hour care, the hospital would give that patient a medical certificate and send a copy to a long-term care center, which would then help the family to look for a local caregiver.
The Council of Labor Affairs said that there is a long-term care center in each county and city. Each center will introduce three local caregivers to families in two separate meetings.
The CLA said the government will provide a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 to families that employ local caregivers, in an attempt to encourage them to hire locals instead of foreigners.
Families may apply to the CLA to hire foreign caregivers only if they have valid reasons for not hiring a local caregiver or cannot find one to fill the position, the CLA said.
The long-term care centers will also provide help and subsidies to families whose sick or elderly members need care, but not 24-hour care, the Ministry of Interior said.
Kuo said that a salary of NT$30,000 to NT$35,000 for 24-hour local caregivers suggested by the CLA would not be enough, considering that local 24-hour caregivers in hospitals make up to NT$2,000 a day.
But Kuo said he hoped that with the subsidy and the persuasion of the long-term care centers, families would think twice before hiring foreign caregivers.
He added that maybe some families should consider hiring a local 8-hour or 12-hour caregiver and then take care of the sick family member themselves for the other 12 or 16 hours.