Looking to Taiwan as model for introduction of foreign nurses

In order to handle the shortage of care workers that the nation’s rapidly aging population will soon require, 208 Indonesian candidates for nurses and care workers will start working in Japan from next year under an Economic Partnership Agreement that came into effect in July this year. To get a feel for how the system will work in practice, I visited a place using similar measures to tackle a similar problem: Taiwan.

Taiwan has a population of around 23 million, with 2.63 million living in the capital Taipei. In 1993, the percentage of the population over the age of 65 rose above 7 percent, marking the official transition to an aging society. By 2005, this figure reached 10 percent, and is predicted to hit 20 percent by 2025.

The birth rate (1.12 in 2006) is lower than that of Japan, and the country is progressing toward a declining birth rate as well as an aging population, and while ailing parents are traditionally cared for by their children, the number of those families living with their parents is around 60 percent and falling, and more and more are turning to private care as an alternative.

One such home, the Sunshine Private Nursing Home, is located in a corner of a residential district, about 20 minutes by car from the center of Taipei. While none of its 40 or so residents are in a serious condition, around 80 percent of them suffer from dementia or post-stroke symptoms, and the home is set up similar to an intensive-care old people’s home in Japan.

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