People come most alive when they are able to live with a sense of self-worth, or more simply, when they are able to do whatever they want to do and do it for themselves. People should be free to pursue this goal no matter what state they are in (whether it be old age, a disability, or other perceived disadvantage). We believe that the term “community of care” applies to the entire process of identifying what individuals want to achieve, working out the concept of “community of care” together as needed, and applying the resources that make it possible to achieve these goals. The resources that enable the achievement of these goals can include health, learning, or traveling opportunities for individuals, the various public services that undergird these opportunities, the various networks created by people, and the interactions of encouraging and helping one another. These resources or a variety of knowledge are created through cooperation; the more significant this is, the farther the “community of care” can extend.
Although “community of care” relates to the goals talked about here, in the past we have often made an individual’s health or learning a goal in itself and evaluated the goal by quantifying the goal. Instead, what we should be aiming for is considering what the individual would do with their knowledge. In other words, we are proposing to shift our perspective on how we understand what living means to people.
There are initiatives already throughout Japan to create these types of communities of care. One such initiative is small-scale, multifunctional care or symbiotic care.
The government’s basic policy “Cities, People and Job Creation Headquarters,” enacted in September 2014 makes the following reference to small-scale, multifunctional care: “Promote lifestyle service support that is ‘cross-generational and multi-functional’ and eliminate compartmentalized systems in smaller offices, so as to enable the elderly and all other residents of rural communities to live enriched lives.” Although the conventional approach has been based on compartmentalized systems with facilities providing nursing-care insurance services for the elderly, facilities providing disability welfare services for the disabled, and childcare centers for children, our initiatives aim to consolidate these services together in small offices using private homes or similar spaces. Such initiatives have begun to spread into remote rural areas and isolated islands, where it has been difficult to maintain welfare facilities due to population decline. The so-called “Toyama-style Day Care Service” initiative is the forerunner of this small-scale, multifunctional care or symbiotic care.
Importantly, this is not a mechanism devised for the purposes of greater financial efficiency. Toyama-style Day Care Service is the result of gradually altering a system; starting out with various life encounters; and small-scale, overlapping milieus.
The underlying idea behind our project is to assess whether initiatives in Japan such as Toyama-style Day Care Service and Kochi-style Welfare, which have gained considerable attention in recent years, can be used in emerging East Asian countries that are having difficulty in establishing large-scale welfare facilities, and whether learning communities can be created for use in East Asian countries by linking rural communities in emerging East Asian countries with the practices in the various regions of Japan.