SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Thursday that it will launch so-called Community Care projects in local communities for seniors, persons with disabilities, persons with mental illness, and homeless people over the next two years, led by eight local authorities.
The government’s new Community Care initiative refers to a social service policy that provides integrated support for lodging, healthcare, daycare, and independent livelihood to seniors, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups at their own homes.
Local governments will be able to apply in one of the four areas: senior care, disability care, homeless support, and mental health treatment.
They will be able to utilize the service list provided by the ministry, based on which they are obligated to develop a variety of sub-services on a periodic basis.
Local governments will open registration booths in each township where residents can apply for Community Care services.
For those who require a complex series of services, local care committees comprised of experts will be established to decide on which services should be provided.
Community Care will be compatible with other projects led by other ministries, including the local autonomous public service project from the Ministry of Administration and Safety, and the city rehabilitation project for community care from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Based on the results of the project, the South Korean government will implement the Community Care initiative nationwide by 2026.
Community Care for seniors will prioritize those who are currently hospitalized in long-term care hospitals who wish to return to the local community, and those who require hospitalization due to accidents, diseases, or difficulties in conducting everyday life.
Control rooms will be set up at local hospitals where doctors, nurses, and social workers will work with community care registration booths to connect senior patients with Community Care services prior to getting discharged.
Community Care will provide home repair services to seniors who have difficulty moving around.
For those without a home, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, in collaboration with the Korea Land and Housing Corporation, will provide public housing.
Discharged patients in the low-income tier will be provided with financial subsidies and services to receive medical treatment, daycare, and housework assistance.
In addition, food delivery services will be provided, as well as transportation support to help patients with transportation to a hospital or clinic.
Community Care will also install various IoT and AI-based devices in residences to ensure the safety of seniors at all times.
For persons with disabilities, Community Care will provide support to those who want to return to the local community among disabled individuals who are considering staying or currently residing at special residences.
Once they decide to return, disabled persons may choose live in a ‘self-help residence’ where they can get special self-help training from supporting staff with two or three housemates, or live alone in public housing where they can get periodic assistance from support staff.
Local governments will provide 12 million won (US$10,733) resettlement subsidies to the returnees.
For persons with mental illnesses, Community Care aims to provide opportunities to live a stable life in a local community through proper treatment, dosage management, and daycare services.
Mental health patients in South Korea are hospitalized over 200 days on average, which is far longer than the average duration of stay in advanced countries.
One of the major reasons for the prolonged stay is the lack of resettlement support after patients are discharged from the hospital.
Local governments will set up a consortium with public mental health institutions and support those who receive doctor approval to return to their local community, or those who already live in a local community that require constant care.
Mental health institutions will contact patients or guardians to make an agreement to notify local welfare centers and Community Care registration booths of the date of discharge, and set up prior arrangements for providing Community Care.
Once a patient is discharged, he or she will be provided with a ‘self-help residence’ where they follow training on how to live independently.
Here, the support staff will provide training on carrying out everyday life during the patient’s three- to six-month stay, after which a qualified doctor will decide if the patient can move back to the local community.
Local governments will help residents who require mental health treatment to gain easier access to medical treatment.
The national government said that the plan will be developed this year with the aim to implement it by 2020.
For homeless people or those living in special facilities for the homeless, Community Care will provide ‘self-help residences’ where people will live in groups of four or less and receive periodic consultations to develop social skills, or live alone in a public housing where they can receive periodic visits from social workers.
Living allowances will be provided to those in the low-income tier.
Homeless persons whose resident registration has expired will have their registration restored, and be provided with access to financial services through credit recovery procedures.
They will also be given opportunities to get a job, and receive treatment for alcoholism, mental illness, and tuberculosis.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)