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Health and Care for the Vulnerable—Christmas Love and Warmth for the Homeless—Ministry Hospitals Launch 120 Care Teams

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-12-23
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

Health and Care for the Vulnerable—Christmas Love and Warmth for the Homeless—Ministry Hospitals Launch 120 Care Teams 

The Ministry of Health and Welfare held a press conference on the morning of December 23 for the launch of the Health and Care for the Vulnerable—Christmas Love and Warmth for the Homeless care teams. Minister Been-Huang Chiang led Chief Executive Chin-Feng Lin of the ministry’s Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission, Division Head Mei-Zhen Li of the Social Assistance and Social Work Division, and Director Huey-Jen Lai of the Lo-Sheng Sanatorium and Hospital to launch Homeless Care Trains, seeking to link social resources and public caring to emphasize and care for a disadvantaged group on the fringes of society—the homeless. 

Currently, a total of 20 ministry-affiliated hospitals have launched health management programs for middle- and low-income households and the homeless. For example, up to January to November in 2014, meals and goods were delivered to elderly living alone 72,069 times, health care services (including telephone greetings and accompaniment to visit physicians) were provided for elderly living alone 58,437 times, care visits were provided for elderly living alone 30,973 times, home services were provided to elderly living alone 41,674 times, 72,190 care visits were conducted, home services were provided 171,378 times, and health management was provided for middle- and low-income households 2127 times, including disease management 2599 times and health promotion 2439 times. 

In response to a series of cold snaps with low temperatures that have affected the health of middle- and low-income families and disadvantaged groups, we have decided to take the lead in establishing 6 care groups within each of the 20 ministry-affiliated hospitals. Each care group comprises physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, psychotherapists, and social workers. A total of 120 care groups will be established. These groups will work together to care for disadvantaged groups on the fringes of society who need care between December 23 of this year and the end of February of next year. Physicians will provide medical assessment and treatment, nurses will provide nursing assessment and care, social workers will assist in arranging care and assessment, economic assistance, recovery of health care identities, placements, and other resources links and assistance, dietitians will provide nutritional assessment and consulting, psychologists will provide consultation and support on psychological needs, and volunteers will actively provide care services. 

Minister Been-Huang Chiang of the Ministry of Health and Welfare indicated that nearly 3000 homeless people throughout the country have currently been registered for care. Approximately 80% are concentrated within 6 major metropolitan areas. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has long invested in assistance and care for disadvantaged groups, including treatment and care services for middle- and low-income households, elderly living alone, and the homeless. Minister Chiang stated that in fact, the vast majority of the homeless, like Mr. Jian, may have become homeless due to a temporary inability to solve problems involving major changes in their lives, health, unemployment, or family problems. The Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission and the Social Assistance and Social Work Division of the Ministry of Health and Welfare will link the health and social affairs systems of various regions and integrate them with the resources of employment, police, and social welfare organizations to establish jointly social safety nets, helping the homeless and other disadvantaged groups. 

Division Head Mei-Zhen Li of the Social Assistance and Social Work Division indicated that the services provided to the homeless include life maintenance measures (such as the provision of meals, warm clothing, and sleeping bags) and strengthened care programs for low temperatures (strengthening care services for the homeless and disadvantaged groups, including telephone greetings, the provision of hot food stations, washing services, and the placement of temporary shelters). The homeless are simultaneously helped to cultivate their employability and provided with help finding appropriate employment and integrated housing subsidy resource programs and placement services. Last year (2013), 1508 people accepted placement services. Over the past 5 years, public employment service agencies have serviced a total of 3366 homeless people (including 2245 referrals via the social affairs system), among whom 1798 were provided with employment counseling and 1568 were provided with assistance in the form of referrals to medical or social welfare institutions. 

Chief Executive Chin-Feng Lin of the Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission also stated that 26 ministry-affiliated hospitals are sparing no effort to aid the elderly. Subsidies of approximately NT$23 million have been provided this year alone for the economically disadvantaged who are unable to cope with medical expenses and require care among middle- and low-income households, those living alone, the disabled, and the homeless. These subsidies were 30% greater than they were during the previous year. Practically speaking, more than 90% of homeless people with medical needs or who fall on the street are sent to public hospitals for treatment. Although the homeless often face health, economic, family, care, and placement problems, the ministry’s affiliated hospitals uphold their mission of public health and social responsibility. They do not lessen their medical services for the homeless but rather provide them with health management, free clinic, and health screening services. The ministry hospitals also provide care measures based on the needs of homeless in different areas. For example, Taichung Hospital provides Homeless Care Packages for homeless people in need. Taipei Hospital collaborates with homeless associations to encourage homeless people with high blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol to return to clinics regularly to preserve their health. This year (2014), homeless treatment and care services have been provided nearly 3000 times as of October. 


Minister Chiang again called upon everyone to emphasize and care for disadvantaged groups on the fringes of society, allowing the homeless to gain warmth, safety, and care with the support of society and all social circles and to regain their health and happy lives.