About Us Leadership Contact Us Theses Trade Activities Aging Issues

Aging Issues

The Eldercare Workshop - 2004

Under the auspicious of U.S. Foundation for International Economic Policy (incorporated by the leadership in the U.S. Congress and its counterparts in the Japanese Diet, designed to promote the bilateral trade on trade, education, culture and health), Sun-Life Social & Welfare Organization and Sun-Vision Social & Welfare Organization, in collaboration with Asian Pacific Institute of John F. Kennedy University and the National Asian Pacific On Aging in the United States, the eldercare workshop was conducted for the approximately three weeks from July 10th through July 30th at the four facilities being operated by Sun-Life Social & Welfare Organization and Sun-Vision Social & Welfare Organization. The sessions were conducted at Konan city, Kasugai city Aichi Prefecture, Kagamihara city in Gifu Prefecture and Suwa Town in Nagano Prefectures being participated by care givers, administrators and other professional persons such as social counselors and PT and OP from more than dozen facilities of the Organization and some local academic peoples in the region.

This eldercare workshop has been on-going programs for the last 9 years, which were conducted both in the Bay area of California and Japan. It is the outgrowth of a collaborative arrangement between Sun-Life Social & Welfare Organization and John F. Kennedy University in California with the support and assistance of professional, academic and public entities in the Bay area. In the past, this eldercare workshop was conducted by the professional specialists of their respective field, which included clinical psychologies, elder lawyers, social workers, medical doctors for the elderly and other specialists such as Expressive Art Therapy.

The theme of the sessions was focused on 1) team building between levels of case management including communication and trust, 2) fostering empathy toward residents by understanding personal issues, 3) resiliency of care givers; building a caring community through shared experiences, fostering a sense of accomplishments, tapping into their resources, etc, 4) promoting a sense of equilibriums and calm at each site. The instructors were Ms.Cazeaux Nordstrum, who earned her Master's degree from John F. Kennedy University and taught there as well. She is currently a PhD student at California Institute of Clinical Social Work and does practice clinical counseling for the elderly as well. Her methodology for counseling stems strongly from spiritual concept and approach. Ms. Susan Weiner joined Ms. Nordstrum as a co-instructor during the sessions conducted in Japan. She has earned her Master's degree from John F. Kennedy University where she specialized "Expressive Arts Therapy". Two of them have been one of the prime mover and innovators for this international eldercare workshop for the last 9 years.

Ms. Nordstrum focused on her psycho-clinical counseling dealing with some of difficulties and concerns that care-givers are constantly confronted in their task of providing care services for the elderly under a new system named "Japan's Long Term Care Services Insurance Law(s)" which was enacted in 1997 and started for the implementation of this system as of April, 2000. Her observation concerning the issues and concerns expressed by care givers are pointed out in the following observation; "Caring for the elderly is a service business and people who provide it are the biggest asset. The quality of the care workers and their well being is what is emphasized in the industry in the United States". She further pointed out and noted that it is important to give thoughts to the fact that genuine needs that are neglected or pushed aside turn into hurt, pain and anger, resentment, depression. Many, many care workers in many ways demonstrated through their art and through the feelings that some of consideration needs to take place for staff support.

It is urged that "staff may forms of creative expression to release their pent up feelings and then to be able to work with facilitators to understand their feelings and their situation. Then, they can become part of the solution and not just part of the problem". Many of the sessions were directed and dealt with these matters and issues. She concluded her observation by saying that the wholeness is the key to aliveness. It is more than physical vitality. It is a radiance that comes from being at one with yourself and your experience. This is exactly what we are trying to offer both in Japan and the United States".

Ms. Weiner's observation was that care workers were feeling stress, isolation, and were reacting to sudden shift assignments in some cases. By allowing them to realize that they had the capacity to relieve stress, join together for support and joy, and could communicate their concerns positively, they expressed relief and hopefulness. Providing opportunities for hopefulness and connection helps to make work meaningful, and may allow for a stronger sense of loyalty for the corporation.

In the era of growing aging society, the issue of the elderly is not the issue of one nation but it is that of the world. In this sense, an international collaborative arrangements to promote such an exchange program is so important to enhance the awareness of how the best care can be provided and how the relative law(s) and regulations be in place which needs to meet the true necessity of providing quality of care services for the elderly.

Japan as well as the most of nations may be facing a turning point whereas more psychological and spiritual factors may be seriously taken into consideration not just for care givers in their daily contacts with the elderly but for the administrators of facilities to ensure that the quality of care would be enhanced when care worker's physical and mental condition are rightly in place.

Observations from the participating staff and administrators for the sessions may be summarized that it has provided a sense of importance of self-evaluation as well as motivation which will enhance self-assurance. Through the activities at the sessions conducted, care workers were convinced that caring oneself is the key to provide quality of care for the elderly. An issue of team building and wholeness is one of the important elements to be flexible enough to cope with the difficulties that they may encounter in their assignments.

It is admired that Dr.Teruhisa Mokuno, CEO of Sun Life Social & Welfare Organization and Sun Vision Social & Welfare Organization have such a fine and farsighted vision to promote such an important international exchange programs not only for the healthy and sound operation of corporation through learning of new ideas but also to provide innovative sense of challenge and motivation for his staff.