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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 September 18 - 24  > Welfare ministry’s plan turns low-income elderly into ‘care refugees’
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2013 September 18 - 24 [WELFARE]

Welfare ministry’s plan turns low-income elderly into ‘care refugees’

September 19, 2013
The Welfare Ministry plans to tighten the entry requirements to special nursing-care facilities. It will probably keep low-income and elderly people in various stages of dementia away from access to services they need.

As of December 2009, the number of the elderly on waiting lists for admission to special nursing-care homes reached 420,000. As measures to decrease the number, the Welfare Ministry on September 18 at its panel’s meeting proposed to exempt elderly people who are considered to be borderline cases requiring the necessity for special care from being admitted to such facilities.

Aged people ranked borderline for the level of service requirement often live under the following conditions: no one can take care of them; their family members have difficulties in looking after them; or they suffer deterioration in cognitive functions due to dementia.

Among 470,000 nursing-home residents, 80% of them are living on limited income, and 11.8% or 55,000 are rated borderline for the level of service requirement.

The government is promoting a project encouraging the elderly to choose to live in assisted-living facilities. To live in such facilities, however, costs 130,000 yen a month and residents have to pay fees for the nursing-care insurance service.

If the Welfare Ministry’s plan is implemented, low-income elderly people will be forced out of nursing-care facilities and become “nursing-care refugees”.
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