Foreigners get home for elderly

Kyodo

A multilingual elderly group home that caters to foreign residents has opened recently in Kobe, providing a rare option for those who find it difficult to fit in at ordinary nursing care institutions in Japan due to their different language and cultural backgrounds.

The languages the staff speak include Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, and the three-story home has 18 single rooms, all with easy access to a common sitting room where residents can gather. The monthly charge for board and lodging is about ¥115,000.

Built by the Kobe Foreigners Friendship Center, the roughly ¥130 million facility has around 20 helpers and staff to care for elderly people who find it difficult to live at home due to conditions such as dementia. Its doors are open to people with foreign backgrounds, such as long-term residents of Korean descent as well as Vietnamese refugees.

“It is important to create an environment where (elderly foreign residents) can live at ease even in Japan where there’s a strong tendency to be clannish,” said 61-year-old Kayoko Yamane, who runs the group home.

“I hope this to be a place where all staff members and residents can mutually respect each other regardless of their roots,” she said.