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METI Releases Report Compiled by Study Group for Future Supply and Demand of Elderly Nursing Care Systems Effort to encourage the elderly to participate in work and other social activities through forecasting the era of the 100-year lifespan

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a Study Group for Future Supply and Demand of Elderly Nursing Care Systems and the study group held discussions and compiled the results of their discussions into a report.

The report focuses on approaches to overcoming and alleviating the expected shortage of human resources in the field of nursing care and to this end, proposes specific measures for the purpose of [ⅰ] encouraging the elderly to participate in social activities from the standpoint that Japan should avoid having the elderly receive long-term nursing care, and [ⅱ] enhancing the nursing care industry’s ability to secure human resources for the field (i.e., promoting the introduction of a new system of nursing care supporters.)

1. Outline of the study group

With the advent of an aging society with fewer children, Japan is expected to face a decline in the productive-age population and this is highly likely to cause serious labor shortages in a variety of industries in Japan.

In particular, this expected trend is remarkable in the field of nursing care where the growing number of elderly will boost the demand for such care, and this has been raising concerns that labor shortages and other factors will lead to insufficient provision of nursing-care services, pushing nursing care workers to leave the field, and finally to accelerating labor shortages in entire industries across Japan.

As one of the efforts to address this situation, in March 2016, METI released a report compiled by the Study Group on the Provision of Nursing Care Services in Response to Future Nursing Care Demand. The report’s recommendation was that Japan should “improve the quality and productivity of nursing care services by utilizing nursing care equipment, IT, and other equipment” to secure the provision of necessary nursing care in the future years. In addition to these efforts, METI considered it as important to take the following measures to overcome and alleviate such shortages of human resources in the field.

  • Need of advancing some efforts in parallel, such as efforts securing human resources while undertaking efforts related to demand in the field of nursing care, and
  • Establish a society that embraces the era of the 100-year lifespan in which the elderly and other individuals in Japan are able to spend their daily lives in a motivated manner while living independently.

From these viewpoints, METI established a Study Group for Future Supply and Demand of Elderly Nursing Care Systems and the study group held discussions concerning creation of a new nursing care system for the elderly that will be not limited to providing nursing care, but will also encourage the elderly to participate in work and contribute to society.

2. Highlights of the report

Setting the target year of 2035, when the postwar baby-boom generation will reach the age of 85 or older, the age bracket in which 60% of the people are reportedly expected to be in a condition of needing long-term care or support, the report focuses on approaches to overcoming and alleviating the expected shortages of human resources in the field of nursing care and, to this end, proposes specific measures from two viewpoints of [i] encouraging the elderly to contribute to society from the standpoint that Japan should avoid having the elderly receive long-term nursing care, and [ii] enhancing the nursing care industry’s ability to secure human resources for the field

(1) Measures for encouraging the elderly to contribute to society from the standpoint that Japan should avoid having the elderly receive long-term nursing care

Some studies discovered that as the elderly age, their independence decreases along with their ability to fulfill societal responsibilities. According to this finding, it is considered important to encourage the elderly to contribute to society as an approach to promoting minimization of the elderly receiving long-term nursing care. Meanwhile, as mismatch of social activities and needs among the elderly has remained, as seen by some opinions that the elderly often cannot find attractive opportunities, Japan should develop opportunities for elderly to leave their homes and services that attract the elderly to participate, taking advantage of private marketing and planning services provided by businesses, and such development is expected to contribute to creating new services that meet the demand among the elderly.

Moreover, markets for the elderly are expected to expand, but there is a potential that some elderly people may prioritize their resources towards long-term care and limit their spending on luxuries and entertainments, amounting to as much as 1.7 trillion yen annually. Based on this estimation, the report presents the need for private businesses to enter the markets that will aid the elderly in avoiding long-term nursing care.

(2) Measures for enhancing the nursing care industry’s ability to secure human resources in the field

As Japan is facing cross-sectoral labor shortages, some industries in the field of nursing care have started making use of the elderly and other potential labor resources as workers that support full-time stuff and experts in the field.

Concerning this situation, the report suggests the introduction of a new system of nursing care supporters, an occupation proposed as one of the diversified working styles in which no expert skills or experience are required and even the elderly are able to play a leading role, and it explains measures for the introduction of such a system.

Specifically, the report contains: recommendations for determining, revising and extracting business processes that such supporters are able to be responsible for, by making use of a business process re-engineering (BPR) method in introducing a system of nursing care supporters; case examples of successful introduction of such systems; effective approaches to calling for and hiring such supporters, and other key points.

Appendix

Release date

April 9, 2018

Division in Charge

Industrial Structure Policy Division, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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