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Taiwan to Ease Restrictions on Migrant Caregiver Employment

Taiwan’s government will ease restrictions on the employment of live-in migrant caregivers to help more local families in need of long-term care for their ailing family members, the Social and Family Affairs Administration under the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said on Tuesday.

Director of Social and Family Affairs Administration Chien Hui-jiuan (簡慧娟) told reporters that the MOHW and the Ministry of Labor (MOL) held an expert meeting earlier in the day and came to a conclusion that three more categories of people will be eligible to hire migrant caregivers without being required to undergo and pass an assessment called the Barthel Index.

The Barthel Index is used in clinical practice and research to measure an individual’s ability to complete activities of daily living (ADL).

Elderly and severely ill citizens in Taiwan are required to undergo such an assessment conducted by a hospital if their family wishes to hire a foreign caregiver, with the exception of individuals categorized under “specific disabilities.”

The approval of employing a migrant caregiver is determined by the ADL scores obtained in 10 areas assessed under the Barthel Index.

Under the new policy, individuals who have already used long-term care for no less than six months and those who have been diagnosed with mild dementia will not be required to undergo an assessment based on the Barthel Index to hire migrant caregivers, Chien said.

Meanwhile, the category of “specific disabilities,” which currently includes individuals facing significant limitations in their physical and mental abilities, will be expanded to encompass people with mild physical disabilities, as well as patients dealing with rare diseases, severe respiratory disorders, and loss of swallowing function. These individuals will be granted an exemption from the Barthel Index requirement,” Chien added.

Chien said while details about the relaxation of the requirement of the Barthel Index are pending further discussions, the new policy is expected to benefit about 600,000 people in need of a caregiver.

Among this population, about 300,000 need long-term care, 200,000 are diagnosed with dementia, and 100,000 are people with specific disabilities, Chien said.

Liu Tsan-hung (劉燦宏), vice president of Taipei Medical University-Shuang Ho Hospital who attended Tuesday’s expert meeting, commended the exemption granted to individuals suffering from severe respiratory disorders and impaired swallowing functions.

It is very inconvenient for patients who need support from a respirator or nasogastric feeding tube to go to the hospital to undergo the Barthel Index assessment.

The Ministry of Labor indicated that the relevant regulations are estimated to take effect at the end of this year, with an initial estimate of an increase of 20,000 migrant workers.

The debate about how to use the Barthel Index assessment as a requirement to allow senior citizens to hire migrant workers has been escalating after the three presidential candidates from the three major political parties urged an easing of the rules to make it more convenient for patients’ families to hire caregivers.

New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), who is also the presidential candidate for the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), put forth a proposal to eliminate the Barthel Index requirement for specific senior citizens at the end of last month.

Hou has made a commitment that if he is elected president in January, he will remove the requirement for Taiwanese citizens aged 80 and above, as well as those in the 70-79 age group who are dealing with severe illnesses, such as advanced-stage cancer.

Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) contended that the Barthel scale should not be the sole criterion for evaluating applications for migrant caregivers.

Ko said those wanting to hire migrant “helpers” should also be given a chance to have their applications considered.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, also expressed the need for modifications to the regulations that mandate senior citizens to undergo the Barthel scale assessment in order to hire migrant caregivers for their care.

Source: Focus Taiwan