[FILM] TADAIMA - Various "Homes"
[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 155 / June. 15, 2010 ]

TADAIMA - Various "Homes"
2010 / Japan / 96 minutes

The nursing care insurance system started up in Japan ten years ago. Since then nursing care has expanded to include all kinds of services. On the other hand, many people feel that the existing system is difficult to use, while others cannot take advantage of it. This documentary film portrays the work of young people who have started small nursing care centers to care for elderly people who do not fit into the existing public nursing care system.
Four different centers make their appearance in the film. One is "Ishii's Home," a day service center located in Chiba City. Its representative, Ishii Hidetoshi, while employed at a nursing care institution together with his wife, opened the Home at the age of 30, about four years ago. The staff consists of 21 persons and there are 26 people using its facilities. In addition to Mr. Ishii and his wife, their parents and children and other relatives work at the center as volunteers. Recently, Mr. Ishii started accepting young people with early dementia disease. He aims at establishing a place where elderly persons, disabled people, and children can live together.
Another day service center, called "Wellside Wellness (Idobata Genki)," was opened eight years ago in the city of Kisarazu (Chiba Prefecture) by Ito Hideki at the age of 30 years. A staff of 14 people takes care of 25 persons. Additionally, Mr. Ito began a day-service center and some accommodation facilities for disabled people. He himself experienced "hikikomori" (a fear of getting out into society) and job-hopping (with various part-time jobs) and, as a result, is able to employ all kinds of young people and carry on nursing-care activities without becoming a slave to conventional patterns.
The "Genki-na Kame-San" located in Sakato City (Saitama Prefecture) is the oldest among the centers appearing in the film. Mr. Takimoto Shinkichi started it in 1986 at the age of 36. The staff consists of 18 persons taking care of 21 elderly people, 20 of whom live at the center. Eight disabled persons as well as two children receive day-care services. Mr. Takimoto points out the contradictions in the present nursing care system. "Rather than adjust to the public system, we decided to run the institution without public approval so as to be able to provide the services needed by the elderly and the disabled."
The newest center introduced in the film is "Yuto," opened in April 2009 in Joyo City (Kyoto Prefecture) by 28 year-old Mr. Okawa Takuya together with his wife. They provide day care and short-term stay, take care of disabled children and accompany people to hospitals or for shopping. They wanted to be able to provide care for people whom the nursing care insurance cannot cover because they fall outside its time frame or have special needs, so they decided not to apply for public approval. Through trial and error they are responding to the real needs of people who fall through the cracks in the public system.
Without any doubt, the staff personnel of the centers appearing in the film are wonderful people and their work is quite impressive. Nevertheless, the disabled and elderly receiving care there are much more attractive. There is the 79-year-old former school principal who takes it out on the staff whenever he dislikes something but always has a charming smile for the children. There is an 80-year-old man that sometimes does not recognize his own wife in her wheelchair and wants to leave every morning for work as a carpenter. A 62-year-old lady with mental deficiency that had been refused entrance to various institutions because of her tendency to walk out and get lost was accepted into "Genki-na Kame-San," where she receives the solicitous care of the staff and can even help take care of other residents.
Patients as well as staff are always smiling despite their various hardships. Mr. Ito affirms, "There is no need to force oneself to be kind to those who are hard to please. Rather we give devoted attention to the elderly who are receptive. In this way the staff constantly acquires renewed motivation." Viewers can see very human encounters here that go beyond the directions any instruction manual can give.
A man with severe brain damage incurred from a myocardial infarction during a marathon race entered the "Genki na Kame-San" center for day-service care after having been shifted around to various hospitals and care facilities. Then one day when his wife was driving him home, he suddenly said, "Let's go back!" On returning to "Genki-na Kame-San," he said "I'm back (Tadaima)!" as he entered. His wife said that when she heard this she got goose bumps. This incident indicates clearly what "Genki-na Kame-San" meant to that man.

[Shibata Yukinori, Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo]
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