Working in the Nursing Home Care Industry in Japan

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  • One of the industries in Japan that suffers severe labor shortage is the nursing home care sector. It is at the same time a sector that only keeps expanding, with no shortage of customers in the quickly aging nation that is Japan. This translates into many job offers with stable income available for both Japanese nationals and foreigners. We visited one of Tokyo’s nursing homes, to talk about future job prospects and what to expect from working in the nursing care home sector in Japan in general.

    See how to find a job in the nursing care sector

    Working in a nursing care home – is it getting easier?

    Author’s Photo

    Taking care of the elderly in a live-in facility means helping them with all daily necessities. A nursing care staff member is expected to help with laundry, cooking, cleaning up, bath and toilet visits, as well as with recreation such as the facility’s occasional games and outside walks. However, there are usually several employees present at all times, so you won’t shoulder the burden alone. “We help each other all the time,” we are told by a nursing care home employee we talked to.

    A big helping hand in this work has also been extended by modern technology. There are many technological advancements that make life easier for the elderly and work simpler for the nursing care staff. There are special beds and their height can be easily adjusted at the touch of a button, so getting people in and out of bed is much easier. “When the bed is raised higher it’s easier on our backs, because we don’t have to bend down as much,” one employee explained.

    Author’s Photo

    By far, the most modern piece of equipment that is currently popular in nursing care facilities in Japan is the automated medicine dispensing machine. Every person is unique, so every resident’s medicine is pre-sorted and put into this machine. It is then arranged by the determined times based on what the doctor has prescribed, and it sounds an alarm when it’s time to take the medicine. This way, the staff doesn’t have to remember all the different healthcare regimens and there is less likelihood of mixing up the medicines.

    Moreover, in many nursing homes, every room is equipped with an alarm which, if triggered, lights up a red light above the room door and flashes a signal on the switchboard. Staff can react quickly in any scenario.

    Communication is Key

    Working with people in any way or position is sure to require good communication skills. Moreover, those skills can be further exercised and improved on the job. Depending on the nursing home’s resident, a person might also have a regional accent, or their speech is impacted by old age, so attentive listening is crucial. What this means for foreign staff is that conversational Japanese language ability is necessary. A good nursing care facility will have more employees, so potentially native speaker coworkers could help a foreign employee with language.
    Along with language skills, this job is more suited to people who are patient and caring. At the end of the day, talking to the elderly can be very rewarding, or as one of the nursing home sector employees we talked to says “人生の先輩です” (“they are our life teachers, with senior experience”).

    Why choose to work in the nursing care sector?

    As there is severe labour shortage, and ever more nursing care homes and increasing elderly population, many jobs in the sector offer better working conditions. Very often nursing homes will offer full time employment with all the benefits, including a pension plan. There are also part-time jobs offered, especially convenient for those who want to try out the job without committing to it at first, or they simply don’t have the time for a full time job. This includes students, housewives interested in part-time work, etc. Nursing care homes often welcome beginners, opening a career path for them with chance for advancement. The new staff of good nursing care providers attend a training course before starting work and further learn on the job.

    Many nursing care facilities in Japan welcome both Japanese nationals and foreigners, supporting their foreign staff in the visa acquirement process (a kango visa 介護ビザ meaning “nursing care visa”, or tokutei ginou viza 特定技能ビザ meaning “special skills visa” is necessary to work in this sector).

    Finally, salaries are getting more competitive, so employees in this sector with the proper qualifications usually have a 220,000 yen per month starting salary and up. Currently, Japan Info’s “Foreign Employment Consultation Center” introduces such nursing care work as a full-time employee or part-time worker. Most full-time jobs offered trough this center have a monthly salary of 220,000 yen or more (the salary will steadily increase) and are in the Tokyo area.

    [Full time jobs]
    – monthly salary of 220,000 yen or more (with steady increase)
    – Tokyo locations
    – nursing care-related qualifications required
    – Japanese language ability N2 or higher (according to the JLPT test scale)

    There are also part-time jobs in the nursing care sector available through this Center. The role of a part-time worker in the nursing care home would be to support a full-time caregiver employee.

    [Part time jobs]

    – hourly wage of 1280 yen
    – Tokyo locations

    – no qualifications related to nursing care or experience required
    – job training will be provided.

    If you are interested in working in nursing care, send a message to the “Foreign Employment Consultation Center” on Facebook to introduce yourself and get job offers.
    * Login to Facebook is required.

    In a way, working with the elderly and working with children is quite similar. You help feed people, put clothes on them, occasionally help them go to the toilet or take a bath. You also play games together, sing songs, and go on walks and daytrips. Yes, it is a difficult job at times, but the staff we talked to say that there are many rewarding elements to it. The stability of the job and the salary aside, working as a care provider will surely improve your communication skills and make you a more passionate and caring person. At the end of the day, everyone needs help in old age and we should collectively strive to keep improving that system.

    *Featured Image from AC photo
    : AC photo/