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Welfare, Health & Security News

  • Seoul’s Care Services with Enhanced Safety in the Midst of COVID-19

  • Welfare, Health & Security News SMG 630

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the major tasks that society has to address is providing care for the socially vulnerable, including infants, children, elderly and the disabled. The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is implementing various care services for these groups of people. The SMG opened its 100th Seoul Kium day care center on November 18, 2020, making it the third center to open in Gwangjin-gu. This is an achievement 2 years and 5 months after the opening of the first center in Jangwi 1(il)-dong, Seongbuk-gu in June 2018.

    Seoul Kium day care centers are facilities that provide general care services for elementary school students. It fills the “gap” of day care after school, during vacation, and on holidays for children of single parent or working-parent families. It offers regular care services for a certain period, and temporary care services for occasions like urgent needs from parents or during school closings. You can make a reservation on the official Seoul Kium website (https://icare.seoul.go.kr). Reservations for regular care services are accepted quarterly while for temporary care services can be made on the day you want to use the facility.

    Center directors and teachers working at the center provide not only day care services but also games and educational programs. For children to improve their self-directed problem-solving ability while collaborating with friends, the centers apply project-based learning (PBL) content to their programs.

    The SMG has expanded the number of public day care centers to reinforce the publicity of child care and the number of Seoul Kium day care centers to implement care services for elementary students, which was in the blind spot of public care, in full swing. In 2020, in particular, Seoul Kium day care centers opened in the morning and provided emergency care due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation. Some centers are providing services where children can listen to online lectures and eat lunch. As care-related concerns became serious after COVID-19, the registration rate considering the capacity raised from 68% the previous year to near 90% in October 2020. For some centers, there were so many applicants that some children had to wait to register.

    The SMG has plans to increase the number of Seoul Kium day care centers so that people can reach one within a 10-minute walk from home or school by 2022. The SMG has the goal to establish a total of 400 centers. Presently, the establishment of a total of 197 centers is confirmed in 25 autonomous districts. For care of the elderly, the SMG is expanding the number of Seniors’ Supportive Housing. The city will provide 90 such houses this year and a total of 190 by 2022. Seniors’ Supportive Housing is a public rental house that combines the housing welfare and care services for the elderly. It is the first of its kind in the nation.

    The housing coordinator (social worker) will offer support for everything from moving to caring for the elderly. The qualification for moving in is the houseless member of household, houseless single household, or those who are living in the facilities operated by the SMG who are living in Seoul and above 65 years old and who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes among senile disorders with insulin injection, or long-term perception support class. 13 senior citizens will live together in a house. They can choose either living alone or living together. The area of the house is 34.9 m2 on average. According to the location and area of the house, the deposit and rent will be KRW 3 million and KRW 270,000, respectively, on average. The rental period is two years and one can live as long as 20 years in the house.

    The elderly who live in the house can receive tailor-made housing services that reflect their characteristics and desires from the housing coordinator. The services including social welfare services, such as moving-in consultation and recommendation of local society welfare service, medical and health care service, such as going to the hospital together, independence support, such as paying the rental and utility bills, and linking to the local communities.

    Seniors’ Supportive Housing will provide convenience facilities for the elderly. Elevators will be installed for mobility convenience. The width of doors of rooms and bathrooms will be widened so that wheelchairs can go in. The floor of the bathroom will be raised to remove the slope and safety equipment will be installed, including anti-sliding finishing materials.
    Dolbom SOS centers are the focus of general care aimed to provide customized services to not only the socially vulnerable, such as the elderly of above 65 years and the disabled, but also citizens who need care services in the caregiving system. The SMG started the pilot operation of Dolbom SOS centers in five autonomous districts, including Seongdong, Nowon, Eunpyeong, Mapo, and Gangseo. In one year of operation, the five centers have provided almost 20,000 cases of services.

    The SMG has been operating Dolbom SOS centers in 25 autonomous districts starting on August 3. With the confidence based on the achievement it earned during the pilot operation, the SMG remarked the care gap caused by the cessation of the existing welfare service due to COVID-19 and that more citizens are suffering from the burden of caring for their family members over a long period of time.

    The services of Dolbom SOS centers became much reinforced, and the range of beneficiaries expanded from low-income families to those who earn less than 85% of median income, and temporarily expanded to those who earn less than 100% of median income until the end of the year.

    The limit of supporting funds for an individual was raised from KRW 1.52 million to KRW 1.56 million. The transportation fee and material expenses, which was one’s own account, will also be supported up to KRW 100,000 per year. For a better response to COVID-19, the cleaning and disinfection service will be added. Any middle-aged citizens over 50 years old, even if they are not the target of support, can use the service by paying for it.