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November 20, 2008

Elder Care: Burdened Care Sector Looks Outwards for Help (Japan)

Japan's Burdened Care Sector Looks Outwards for Help
By Yuki Oda / Tokyo
Nov. 19, 2008

Tsuneto Nakamura is an ambitious young man who jumped into Japan's booming care-service industry at 24. Given the nation's aging population, Nakamura thought caring for the elderly had a lot of room for growth, and much to teach him. "There's so much we can learn from these experts at life," he says. "I enjoy that.

"But recently, as manager of the Yokohama branch of a major Japanese nursing-care service company, Nakamura's enthusiasm has started to wane. His staff provides its elderly customers with 24-hour at-home care, helping them eat, bathe, and use the bathroom.

Unfortunately, Nakamura's predicament is an increasingly common one in Japan, where the turnover rate in the nation's large care-giving sector hit just over 21% in 2007. It's a part of Japan's long struggle to manage its aging population. Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) research projects that the Japanese population over 65 will grow to 32 million in six years, or over 26% of the population, and the Ministry says about half a million additional caregivers will be needed to take care of them.

Help may be on the way. The troubled industry got a small boost in August, when 204 Indonesian professionals — mostly experienced nurses — arrived to work at over 100 Japanese care centers and hospitals as part of a new economic agreement between Japan and Indonesia.

Abridged
SOURCE: TIME USA
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With the global problem of ageing population; we must learn from the experience of Japan. It is a problem that needs planning before it reaches 'basket-case' status.
Admitting foreign workers is a contentious issue for many; yet, it appears inevitable for many countries. That suggest a change in public opinion. Government that ignore planning for increasing demands for age care services, have themselves to blame when the 'crunch' comes.
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