“That looks like a hotel lobby,” a particpant remarked about a picture shown at a presentation about senior care in Ipoh, Perak.
“That looks like a clubhouse or a resort” said another participant.
They were both wrong.
“This is a senior care centre in Japan,” said Victor Ku, speaker and project manager with The Malaysian Association for Social Care Professionals and Homes (Masoc Care).
The response that followed was somewhat familiar: Gasps, exclamations of surprise, awe, and disbelief.
Everyone felt that Malaysia has a long way to go to catch up to the standard of senior care in Japan.
Through our multiple government to government visits to Japan, we’ve come across many care centres, all of which are so different from those in Malaysia.
Some of the Japanese centres are so grand and welcoming, that you would second guess if they are actually care centres.
The elderly residents of the centres themselves opened the doors for us and treated us as if we were guests paying a visit to their homes. They would serve us tea, sit next to us, and try their best to communicate with us despite the language barriers.
In the realm of healthcare, the Japanese caregiving model, known as Kaigo, has been making ripples across care centres worldwide. Kaigo, rooted in Japanese tradition and culture, is transforming the landscape of modern care centres by setting a new and elevated standard for caregiving.
Izawa Keiichi, advisor of Masoc Care, explained that Kaigo is “the pair of hands that assist and maintain the quality of life of the elderly.”
Keiichi, who has over 35 years of experience in caregiving, explained that the essence of Kaigo is not simply attending to the physical needs of an individual; it’s a holistic approach that encapsulates physical, emotional, and social care. It’s a paradigm shift that emphasises dignity, autonomy, independence, respect, and comprehensive wellbeing for those under care. This ethos instils a sense of empowerment in those receiving care, fostering an environment of mutual respect and support.
The centre felt “alive”. The lives of the people there looked colourful. Kaigo places importance on cultural and recreational activities as part of their care regimen.
Residents engage in various activities that promote mental stimulation and overall well-being. From traditional arts and crafts to music and interactive cultural events, these activities enrich the lives of residents, fostering a sense of community and enjoyment.
And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Care professionals that facilitate the elderly’s day-to-day living are locally and professionally trained and certified with Kaigo methodologies. They take full pride in their work and are like friends and family to the elderly residents.
With Kaigo, care centres in Japan utilise specialised software designed to facilitate and enhance caregiving practices. These software tools provide comprehensive guidance on various aspects of caregiving, from medication management systems to emotional support strategies.
They include detailed modules on disease management, specialised care protocols, and communication techniques, empowering care professionals with the knowledge necessary to provide the best care possible.
A cornerstone of the Kaigo training in Japanese care centers is the cultivation of cultural sensitivity and empathy. Care professionals are trained to understand and respect the cultural backgrounds and values of residents.
This emphasis on cultural awareness helps foster a warm, understanding, and respectful environment that aligns with the individual needs and preferences of each resident.
Bridging the gap
Although achieving this standard of care centres may seem unreachable for us currently, we can take small steps forward. Malaysia already has its first Japan-managed care centre, Boon Bak Emina in Ipoh, which upholds the standards of Kaigo care which is one step closer to achieving a holistic and modern approach to caregiving that is both forward-looking and responsive to the needs of today’s ageing population.This article was contributed by The Malaysian Association for Social Care Professionals and Homes (Masoc Care). For more info on the Kaigo experience, contact 011-3301 9681 / firstname.lastname@example.org.