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2008年5月31日 (土)

スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう!

05/31/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 30(IHT/Asahi: May 31,2008)

EDITORIAL: Nursing care crisis

介護の人材―賃金の改善を最優先に

The Diet has enacted a surprisingly inane bill to tackle the challenge of securing a sufficient number of qualified nursing care workers. The bill has only one provision that is totally devoid of substance. All it says is "necessary measures should be taken, if deemed necessary, by April next year."

「来年4月までに、必要があると認めるときは、必要な措置を講じるものとする」

何ともとぼけた表現の法律が今国会で成立した。介護を担う優れた人材を確保するための法律なのだが、条文はたった1条だけで、中身がない。

inane=愚かな、馬鹿げた、とぼけた、無意味な)(devoid=欠いている、もっていない)

The shortage of caregivers in this aging society is becoming increasingly serious. Each year, about 20 percent of the 1 million people working in elderly care leave their profession.

The labor crunch in the care community is especially severe in urban areas where economic conditions have been improving over the past several years.

介護の現場の人手不足は深刻さを増す一方だ。現在100万人あまりが働いているが、毎年20%が辞めていく。

景気が回復している都市部が特にひどい。

The number of offices of home care providers started falling around December last year due to staffing and financial difficulties following years of steady increase. The nursing care insurance system was introduced in 2000.

介護保険が始まった00年以来、増え続けてきた訪問介護の事業所も、人が集まらないのと経営難で、去年12月ごろから減少に転じている。

What is worrisome is that many of the vocational schools and university departments to train caregivers nationwide are failing to meet their intake quotas.

不安なのは、介護福祉士を養成する各地の専門学校や大学で定員割れが続いていることだ。

The number of students who enrolled in these institutions in April 2007 accounted for only 64 percent of the total of their quotas, which was 26,000, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. A total of 12 schools closed their courses for training care workers in fiscal 2007. The data clearly points to waning interest among young people in pursuing a career in nursing care work.

厚生労働省によると、07年4月の定員合計2万6千人に対し、入学者は64%にすぎない。07年度中に12校が養成課程を閉鎖した。若者が介護の職場をめざそうとしなくなったのだ。

Care work means putting in a lot of hours, but care workers are paid only about 200,000 yen per month on average, or more than 100,000 yen less than what people in other industries earn. Low wages are clearly the primary factor behind the labor drain.

Job insecurity is another big problem for caregivers, with nearly half of them working as non-regular employees.

介護職員の平均月収は20万円あまり。重労働なのに、他の仕事より10万円以上低い。介護保険制度研究会の調査では「賃金が低い」が退職理由の1位で、他を大きく引き離している。身分も不安定で半数近くが非正社員だ。多くがワーキングプアのような状態に置かれて、将来の夢が描けない。

The costs of services provided under the state nursing care insurance program, including the wages paid to care workers, are covered by fees set by the government.

介護職員の人件費を含め、介護サービスにかかる費用は政府が決める介護報酬でまかなわれている。

As the number of service recipients has been increasing year after year, the total amount of fees has also kept growing. To curb growth in the payments, the health ministry has lowered the fees twice.

介護保険の利用者が年々ふえ、介護報酬の総額がふくらみ続ける。それを抑えようと、厚労省は2度にわたって介護報酬を引き下げた。賃金が低いのは、それが原因だ。財政面にばかり気を取られているうちに、担い手が次々に逃げ出している。

The ranks of elderly people certified as requiring nursing care are projected to grow to over 6 million in 10 years from the current 4.1 million. That means at least 500,000 additional care workers will be needed. Unless the exodus of workers is stopped, the nursing care insurance program could collapse due to the shortage of labor.

現在410万人いる要介護認定者が10年後には600万人を超える。少なくともあと50万人の介護職員が必要だ。このままでは、せっかくの介護保険制度が人材面から崩壊しかねない。

exodus=退去、出てゆくこと)

Of the "necessary measures" stated by the law, wage increase should be given the highest priority. The government needs to raise the fees for care services and make sure that the hike will translate into higher paychecks for care workers.

法律がいう「必要な措置」の最優先は、賃金を上げることだ。介護報酬を上げたうえで、値上げ分が確実に人件費へ回るよう工夫したい。

The question is how to raise the money needed. Under the current system, 90 percent of the fees for nursing care services is covered by premiums collected from people, aged 40 or older, as well as taxpayer money, while the remaining 10 percent is paid by the service recipients themselves.  

Since it is difficult to raise either the premiums or the out-of-pocket payments by recipients, the only place to find new money to finance a fee hike is state coffers. That would require a shuffling of the state budget.

問題は財源だ。介護報酬は、9割を保険料と税金から支出し、1割を利用者が負担する。保険料も自己負担も限界に近いので、ここは税金からの支出を考えざるをえない。そのために、予算配分を見直す必要がある。

Japan's population is aging at a pace unprecedented in the history of mankind. The Japanese people are facing a big choice. Should the share of limited fiscal sources for public works projects to construct dams, control rivers and build roads be kept unchanged? Or should more of the total spending be allocated to programs for health and nursing care and education in a radical budget reform?

世界で例のないスピードで高齢化が進む。限られた予算をこれまでと同じ配分でダムや河川や道路などに使うのか、介護や医療、教育へ大胆に移すのか。国民も選択を迫られている。

If a major budget reallocation is not enough to deal with the shortage of care workers, a tax hike will be inevitable.

もしそれでも足りなくなったら、増税も避けられなくなるだろう。

To maintain the crucial nursing care system by keeping care workers in the profession, taxpayers may have to brace for an increase in their burden.

介護の担い手とサービスを守るためには、私たちも少し、ふところを痛める覚悟が必要かもしれない。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 30(IHT/Asahi: May 31,2008)

朝日新聞 5月30日号 (英語版 2008年5月31日発行)

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