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Control Yuan Urges Government to Further Strengthen the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of People Living With Dementia

  • PostDate:2018-07-20

Despite acknowledging the impact of dementia, the Taiwan Dementia Plan 2.0 published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) last December is still vague in its scheme to protect the rights of people living with dementia, and lacks concrete action plans, Control Yuan Members Jane Y. W. Chiang and Lin Ya-feng have found.
The report of this year-long joint investigation was approved by the Domestic and Minority Affairs Committee under the Control Yuan on July 5, 2018. During the course of investigation, several consultative sessions were conducted and the experts consulted include Glenn Rees, chair of Alzheimer’s Disease International; Kate Swaffer, CEO of Dementia Alliance International; Tang Li-yu, secretary-general of Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association; Niu Mei-mei, attorney and caregiver; and Chen Chun-you, director of the social worker division at Taiwan Catholic Foundation of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia. The investigation report urges both the Executive and Judicial Branches to review and amend the possible administrative and legal hindrances so that people living with dementia may exercise their rights on a fair and equal ground. This is the second investigation report by Members Chiang and Lin on dementia-related issues, following their first investigation report last August on the shortcomings of dementia prevention, intervention and care in Taiwan.
The investigation has found that putting an end to discrimination and establishing a dementia-friendly community are key to ensure equal rights for the people living with dementia. However, they are needed to be built on an accurate understanding of dementia. To put things into action, it will require an integration of resources across different government agencies in charge, as well as the active participation and engagement of both people living with dementia and their caregivers. The shortcomings and improvements found and suggested by the investigation are summarized as follows:
1. Regarding the rights of people living with dementia in Taiwan, a lot of emphasis has been placed on seniors, rather than providing adequate and suitable services according to individual needs or taking account of age and gender (59.6% of people living with dementia are women). The MOHW should look into the possibility of referring people living with dementia to suitable agencies to receive the right services.
2. The core concepts of dementia are not incorporated into the current syllabus of primary school education. The Ministry of Education should raise awareness of dementia and enhance its understanding through education, spreading the influence from individuals, towards family and finally the community.
3. Regarding the right to work, the Ministry of Labor should keep a keen grasp of the employment status of people with dementia, and where necessary, implement service plans to protect their rights.
4. Regarding road safety of people living with dementia, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) should set up Image Incident Detection (IID) systems to detect possible pedestrian intrusions onto the highway. The MOTC and MOHW should also work together to resolve possible road driving problems for people living with dementia.
5. The current law governing the declaration of guardianship and assistantship does not meet the needs of people living with dementia. It lacks flexibility and is also against Article 12(4) of the CRPD. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) should look into the possibility of incorporating a voluntary guardianship system and make necessary amendments. The Financial Supervisory Commission is deliberating on introducing the trust for guardianship support, in conjunction with amendments to the Family Act. This could prevent the family or guardian of people living with dementia from making detrimental decisions against the latter’s interests and rights.
6. In order to meet the requirement of Article 13(1) of the CRPD, the MOJ and the Judicial Yuan should set up a legal procedure protection mechanism and review the current criminal investigation and interrogation, civil property litigation, administrative litigation or family affairs procedures to see if they create unfair obstacles for people living with dementia. The Judicial Branch should provide people living with dementia a fair and equal ground to exercise their rights.
7. The MOJ and the Judicial Yuan should further strengthen the professional training of judicial personnel so as to enhance their understanding of dementia and raising their awareness to protect the rights of people living with dementia. In order to help people living with dementia to claim their rights, special attention should also be given to procedures such as the registration of caution for real estate, the declaration of guardianship and assistantship, and the application for legal aid.
The right of people living with dementia is not a newfound right. Their rights are to be protected like everyone else. Necessary amendments are to be made to the relevant laws and regulations so that people living with dementia are unaffected and enjoy the same rights as their peers. Members Chiang and Lin emphasize that human rights protection have always been at the heart of the Control Yuan, and it shall persist to monitor the relevant public agencies to implement both the promotion and protection of the rights of people living with dementia.