Japanese PT at Luther Village, Researching Retirement Community Best Practices

Kaori Takechi and Jan Mackenzie

This week, Luther Village gave a warm and friendly welcome to Kaori Takechi, a Physical Therapist who is visiting us from Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan. She stayed with us for three days, observing our social and recreational activities, interviewing staff, and interacting with residents, to learn more about how we operate here. She will share what she learns with her home company, the Furate Group of Japan.

The Furate Group is a Japanese association group consisting of two corporations, the Medical Corporation Furate and Social Welfare Corporation Furate. “Furate (frate)” means “companion” in Latin and can take the meaning of “to have the same philosophy, as in fellows going walking together.”

Medical Corporation Furate operates Nishino hospital, Yasuragi Nursing home (which includes ninety full time residents, including a dementia specialty building which is home to forty residents, and sixty people who take part in adult day centre programming), and a Home Care Support Center, which provides planning for the long-term insurance service (nursing home visiting service etc.)

Social Welfare Corporation Furate operates the following Assisted Living communities: “Keiteki house”, “Forest house”, a day service center, and the Care Giver Station Furate. These facilities put much effort and resources toward horticultural therapy. Social Welfare Corporation Furate also operates a non-profit organization called “Living for Creative” which offers classes that support social involvement for the elderly and children in their community. Activities include horticultural therapy, walking, workshops and gymnastics lessons for children.

Kaori’s role as a Physical Therapist in an integrated community care system in Japan offers her the opportunity to undertake studies specifically related to collaboration in medical treatment, nursing, and welfare; collaboration in government and non-government services  (partnership with municipalities); Interprofessional Collaborations in Health and Social Care; consulting and coordinating services for the elderly (and with dementia); housing for the elderly (with long-term care); livelihood support in community; prevention and care for dementia; social involvement for the elderly; and development of high level human resources in long-term care.

She situates her research in a changing Japanese social context:

“Japan will have a globally unprecedented super aging population. By 2025 when the baby boomer generation turns 75 years old or more it is being projected that:

  • One in every three persons will be 65 or older (one in every five persons at present) and one in every five persons will be 75 or older (one in every ten persons at present)
  • The number of persons with dementia will have increased from 2.8 million at present to 4.7 million or more
  • Approximately 30% of all households will be elderly single households or elderly couple households, and
  • In urban areas the population will have remained stable but the population of those aged 75 or older will have rapidly increased while in rural areas the population of those aged 75 or older will have gradually increased but the total population itself have decreased

With the comprehensive reform of social security and tax, establishing an integrated community care system and ensuring the sustainability of the long-term insurance system will be the main subjects of future discussions.” (The information enclosed above in quotes comes from the Japanese government).

According to Kaori’s research, an integrated community care system involves three policy goals:

  • Establishment of a sustainable long-term care insurance system. This takes into account a care system which provides housing, medical care, long term care, prevention services and livelihood support in communities, and which allows people to experience “aging in place” in their homes until the need for long term care arises, at which time safe and secure care is available. Finally, “the integrated community care system needs to be created by municipalities based on independent and original ideas of the community concerned and according to its characteristics.”
  • Establishment of a “society in which people can live with a sense of security even with dementia.”
  • Establishment of a “long-term care site where people can work for a long time with pride.” This includes ensuring that the staff who work in such facilities are paid well and take pride in their work, to reduce turnover and to meet demand (as research indicates that by 2025, 1 million staff will be needed to work in long term care in Japan).

Professionally, Kaori is mainly engaged in planning and promotion of exercise programs as a part of a preventive care program. She also has a care manager license and is studying the integrated community care system. She would like to take a leadership role in this care system in the near future. She reflects that “this care system is just getting started and there needs to be a model to work from. So I’d like to study overseas practices.” And that’s what brings her here to Luther Village on the Park, to learn from our practices!

The connection is also personal – through their mutual interest in equestrian riding, Kaori is friends with the daughter-in-law of our Customer Relations Supervisor, Jan Mackenzie (Jan’s son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter live in Japan). It was through this friendship that Jan and Kaori connected, and came up with the idea for Kaori to come and learn from us.

Kaori reflects that she has had a wonderful week here. “Everybody – residents and staff – are smiling, happy, peaceful, warm – like sunshine!” She also commented on how accessible everything is at Luther Village, and in Canada – both physically, but also socially and emotionally. As I was about to begin our interview, one of our residents invited Kaori to spend her last night here having dinner together in the Sunshine Dining Room. Kaori enthusiastically accepted and I am sure both Kaori and the residents will enjoy sharing a meal together.

We hope Kaori has learned much this week and is able to bring back the knowledge and friendship we share with her, and extend warmly to the Furate Group in Japan, in the good work that they do.