National / Social Issues

Survey finds that half of Japan's home care workers experienced harassment in 2018

Kyodo

Around 50 percent of home care workers reported in a recent government survey that they had experienced some form of harassment from those being cared for, it was learned Sunday.

In the first extensive survey conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on people working in the nursing care industry, 81 percent of those reporting harassment said they had been psychologically abused at least once in 2018. The survey, part of which was obtained by Kyodo, was based on responses from 10,112 people working for 2,155 nursing service providers, of whom 2,532 were involved in home care. Those who were psychologically harassed typically reported hostile behavior and verbal abuse.

Around 42 percent of those reporting harassment had been physically abused, with reported cases including objects being thrown at care providers, while 37 percent said they had been sexually harassed, according to the survey. Of those providing home care, 17 percent said they had been abused by relatives of those being cared for.

Harassment of home care providers has become a serious problem, particularly as many of them are women who visit private homes alone. In August last year the Nippon Careservice Craft Union, a national labor union formed by nursing care workers, submitted a petition to the labor ministry asking for better legal protection against sexual and other forms of harassment at work. It also urged the government to provide subsidies so that two home care workers can attend each client.

Asked why harassment occurred, 43 percent said clients and their family members did not understand the range of services they were entitled to, while 39 percent said home care work was undervalued.

A separate nationwide survey conducted in February and March last year by the National Association for Visiting Nurse Service showed that many visiting nurses who responded said they were yelled at, told that they were incompetent, or were threatened.

Of those who cited sexual harassment, some of them said they were touched or shown adult videos.

Some administrators have canceled their contracts with those being cared for after finding out that their employees had been harassed, while others said they were not sure what to do, according to the survey.

“Small operators may be unable to deal with such problems, so we need to figure out safety measures for visiting nurses extensively and systematically,” said Akiko Miki, a Kansai Medical University professor involved with the survey.