• Kyodo

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Elderly who are single or without relatives often struggle to secure spots at nursing care homes because they lack a guarantor, despite government warnings against such tactics, a survey showed Monday.

According to the state-commissioned survey, about 30 percent of respondents said they will not accept people without a personal reference or guarantor. The study was conducted in December by Mizuho Information & Research Institute Inc., and 4,900 care facilities were approached nationwide.

The ratio remains almost unchanged from a 2013 survey conducted by another private organization, despite the government notifying the facilities in 2016 that such refusals are unjustified.

The reluctance apparently stems from concerns about who will pay any outstanding bills left when a resident dies, and who will deal with the funeral arrangements and picks up the deceased resident’s belongings.

Since a similar trend is also being reported among medical institutions, the health ministry plans to conduct its first survey on the matter, which will take in some 6,000 hospitals and clinics, and disclose the results next month.

Of the 2,387 care facilities that gave valid answers in the latest survey, 95.9 percent said they ask for a third person, such as a guarantor or reference provider, to sign a contract when someone is admitted to a care home, and 30.7 percent do not accept a person without such a signature.

Some 33.7 percent said they will accept a person without a third-person signature under certain conditions, such the presence of a guardian, while 13.4 percent said they can accept people without such a contract.

Asked what roles the guarantors should play, many facilities said they should serve as emergency contacts, be responsible for claiming the body and belongings, take care of paperwork for entering the facility and guarantee payments to the facility.

They also called for municipalities and guardians to assume the role of a guarantor.

As guarantors cannot handle funerals and other actions following a person’s death, the health ministry is considering expanding their legal powers.