Taiwan mulling time-banking as an approach to senior care

Taipei, Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is looking into the possibility of adopting a time-banking approach to senior care, noting on Saturday that a preliminary plan could be available at the end of this year.

The concept of time banking, the origin of which is attributed to U.S. Professor Edgar Cahn, makes time a currency, allowing people who spend their time engaged in volunteer work to receive credit for that time, which they can later redeem for an equal amount of service time from another person participating in the system.

Taiwan is currently studying the possibility of using time banking in the field of senior care, whereby young people can partake in a number of different volunteer services and log their hours as credit which they can use later in life to "pay for" professional care when they are old, MOHW's Chiang Guo-ren (???), deputy director-general in the Department of Social Assistance and Social Work, said.

There is still a need for further discussion, so the earliest a preliminary plan could be announced is the end of this year, he said.

Some have suggested that the allure of time banking will encourage young people to help more with senior care, thereby resolving the current lack of manpower.

However, Chiang noted that time banking will not solve the lack of manpower in senior care.

This is because those who take care of the elderly professionally are required to undergo training and attain certain qualifications. As such, there may be a surge in volunteers but that does not mean they will all qualify for the job.

Time banking can nonetheless help young people "save up" for professional elderly care in the future.

In fact, Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation Chief Executive Officer Ros Lee (???) said the foundation has long run a time-based currency system with its volunteers.

On the topic of senior care, the foundation opened its system to allow volunteers to redeem an hour of professional elderly care for 100 hours of community service starting last year, Lee said.

According to Lee, time banking may not adequately address the shortage of manpower in elderly care, but it does provide a system where volunteers are ready to lend a helping hand in emergency situations.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel