Information and knowledge about the state of elderly care is being widely discussed, not only by those involved in the sector, but also by the public who are becoming more and more aware of how they are going to prepare for old age. One country that is looked at from all over the world regarding their elderly care is Japan. So, what can we learn from how Japan deal with elderly care?

Some of the key points in Japans' Health and Social care -

Japans’ population is steadily ageing. The 65 and over age range is expected to grow to 25.2% of the overall population by 2020. Public transportation vehicles have signs above specially reserved seats to gently remind people to give up these seats for elderly passengers. In a recent study, 63% of this elderly portion of believe it is their family’s responsibility to care for them when they need it.

Numerous elderly Japanese people however are fighting off the image of the generic elderly person. Many are still actively working to help stave off not only physical ailments but also to keep their minds busy which helps psychologically. There are several programmes to motivate the elderly to participate in social events also known as, ‘ikigai’, roughly translated this means “purpose of life” by having an active lifestyle many can avoid becoming a burden to their families. Alongside the active lifestyle, comes a growing over 65 age range to market health and lifestyle choices and consumables.

How the Japanese use technology in Health and Social care -

Japan has always been at the forefront for any advancements in the technology industry. This is no different when it comes to technology helping the aged. Many care homes in Japan now have robots to help manoeuvre residents, to bring food and drink to those who are no longer mobile. These technologies are constantly improving and moving forward, some robots have been designed to elicit emotional responses and communicate with those who may be lonely. The Japanese government have been instrumental in helping as many people and organisations as possible have use of the robots that are becoming available.

Funding for Japanese Healthcare -

We cannot talk about the issues becoming prevalent in health and social care without talking about how it is funded. In Japan when you reach 65 years of age people apply to their local government and they are tested to see what needs they have. An adviser then recommends on how their needs will be best met with the budget they will be allocated. In Japan the care is predominantly homecare based, with a mix of familial care and outsourced help. Home care is believed to be the most supportive to the well-being of the elderly clients, the number of residential homes in Japan are restricted.
All Japanese residents over the age of 40 must pay insurances to go towards the cost of their own elderly care and then also make co-payments when necessary. One key issue with Japan relying on families wanting to care for their elderly family members is its reliance on the number of unpaid workers there are in the industry. This can also be said of the UK, unpaid carers going unnoticed and not getting the help they need because they cannot afford it is another key issue.

Funding for Care in the UK -

In England there is discussion about how ill prepared the future generations are for their own old age. Many are surprised when they are told they will have to privately fund their own, or a family members care. A study recently found that 1 in 10 of us will need to pay more than £100,000 for our own care, this is indeed likely to grow over time. With local health and social care companies facing major cutbacks the number of people able to receive funded care is shrinking, even though the number of people needing help with their care is going in the opposite direction and growing.

In a survey by the Japanese Government they found one third of carers reported feeling hatred towards the person they were caring for.

It is only since the turn of the millennium that publicly funded social care has been in use in Japan, before this it was the sole responsibility of the family members to care for the older family members.
This also meant that many Japanese women were unable to find employment or work due to their family caring commitments. Similarly, to the UK, they were also finding their Hospitals were becoming full and beds were being blocked, not by people who needed medical help, but by people who could not get care anywhere else.

Radical changes -

To help solve the issues that were becoming more prevalent within the communities, the Japanese government made a radical move. They introduced long term care insurance, this offers social care to those in the 65+ age range to access health and social care based on their needs and not on financial measures. As mentioned before all over 40’s must pay premiums which go towards the costs and national taxes top up the amounts. The scheme has been incredibly popular, due to its affordability and it has also allowed a clear line to be seen on who is responsible for the care of the elderly and in need.
As spoken about in a previous blog in the UK we are struggling to find care workers who want to stay in the care sector. Due to several reasons including pay, hours and lack of satisfaction with the industry there is a huge turnaround in caring staff. Increasing numbers of people are having to self-fund care with savings, or selling property and others are simply going without because they simply cannot afford it. In response to similar pressures Japan took the step forward to design a system that would provide care for the elderly, that is affordable, sustainable and available to everyone.