Workers in the nursing care and welfare sectors are increasingly gathering at so-called “nursing cafes” in an effort to stimulate dialogue in communities on the medical issues that are arising as a result of the nation’s graying society.
In Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, a cafe-style event was held in March to formulate ideas for “developing the Ishikawa region.” Participants came from a wide variety of occupations, including doctors, care workers, priests and internet business entrepreneurs.
“It wasn’t for airing grievances, but we were able to hold productive conversations about how to change the region,” said Yohei Kasama, 37, a supervisor of a care facility.
Participants ranged in age from their 20s to 70s and were split into several small groups. Gathered around desks, they discussed topics such as “creating roles in society for people after they turn 80.”
Suggested ideas included getting medical professionals and care workers to involve local governments and people from the region to contribute to regional development in nursing care infrastructure.
“Hospitals are often hard for people to approach, so I thought of getting out here myself and making it easier for people (to approach us),” said one 46-year-old female nurse.
Hisako Takase, 40, founded Kaigo Cafe (nursing cafe) in 2012.
“I wanted to create a place where people could hold dialogues in an easy manner, regardless of their position or job title,” she said.
The cafes are a place where anyone can go to exchange information. As a care manager herself, Takase often expressed her views online, but she thought she needed to create actual locations for people to meet. Thanks to word-of-mouth, via social media, the events have drawn around 6,000 participants in total.
After listening to a guest speaker, event participants settle on a main topic of discussion.
They talk about the best ways to entertain the elderly or how to understand what people suffering from dementia are going through. Topics change with each event and are held mainly in Tokyo every month, and elsewhere upon request.
The cost to participate is about ¥3,000. Seats, of which there are about 100 per event, can fill up quickly.
Wakako Mitsuya, 57, who runs a community general support center in a town in Fukushima Prefecture, has been attending cafe events once every two months since she first took part.
“I was bothered by young staff members complaining that care work is boring,” she said. “So I tell them it is not only about the place you work. Look outside, too!”
Yasuhiro Yuki, a Shukutoku University professor, said, “At most places of employment there really aren’t that many opportunities to speak with people from different occupations. In the nursing field there are more and more elderly who require a lot of medical attention, so it is important to have cooperation among occupations.”
Takase is working to create a textbook for those who wish to host their own cafe events. She was able to raise money for the project through crowdfunding.
“We want to have more people who can develop such places in their regions, and have this network spread nationwide,” she said.