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2015年11月11日 (水)

介護職人材難 意欲と経験が報われる職場に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Workers at homes for elderly must be rewarded for skill, experience
介護職人材難 意欲と経験が報われる職場に

A principal goal of the government’s policy of creating a society that enables the dynamic engagement of all citizens is to reduce the number of workers who quit jobs to provide nursing care to zero. Speaking at a meeting of the Yomiuri International Economic Society, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his policy of building additional special nursing homes for the elderly.

But the facilities will be of little use if they do not have enough workers. We want the government panel on creation of a dynamic society to work out practical measures to ensure procurement of such personnel.

The effective opening-to-application ratio for nursing care jobs remains far above 2 to 1. This indicates that the industry faces serious difficulty in securing necessary personnel. Indeed, some operators have been forced to curtail services because of a lack of personnel.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates 2.53 million nursing care workers — 800,000 more than exist today — will be required in fiscal 2025, when the first postwar generation of baby boomers will all become 75 years or older. There is likely to be a shortage of 380,000 nursing care workers if the number of such workers continues to increase at the current pace.

The main reason people shun nursing care jobs is the low pay, which now stands at about ¥220,000 a month. This is ¥110,000 less than the average for all industries. A manpower shortage causes a heavy work load, thereby making the job even less popular.

In revising the fees for nursing care services in April, the government expanded an added-fee system so that the monthly payment for nursing care workers can be raised by ¥12,000 on average. Administrative checks must be conducted strictly to determine whether pay hikes have been carried out.

Further improvement in conditions for nursing care workers will be indispensable. It is necessary to study measures to secure fiscal resources for that purpose at such forums as the government panel on creation of a dynamic society.

Steps to secure personnel

It is also essential to establish a system in which the wages of nursing care workers can be decided according to their experience and skills.

Highly specialized skills are required for the treatment of elderly people suffering from dementia. To ensure nursing care workers remain highly motivated, operators should set up a personnel and wage system under which training programs can be carried out systematically and the abilities of workers can be evaluated adequately.

Support by the central government and municipalities is also indispensable. The Shizuoka prefectural government, for example, presents nursing care operators with pay-scale models based on experience. Kyoto Prefecture has been encouraging efforts by nursing care home operators by setting up a certification system for operators who proactively foster human resources.

Nursing homes becoming workplaces where workers can see a bright future plan would help prevent the loss of existing workers and make it easier to secure new personnel.

The bill for revision of the Social Welfare Law that was submitted to the previous Diet session called for, among other things, institutionalizing a system that would require nursing care workers to notify administrative authorities if they quit. This is aimed at improving assistance measures by prefectural welfare personnel centers to help them return to work.

There are more than 500,000 nonworking certified care workers across the country. We strongly hope that the reform bill will be passed as soon as possible.

The utilization of a diversified human resources, including senior citizens, should be stressed. There are many supplementary jobs at nursing care homes, such as cleaning and catering. The foundation for securing personnel can be broadened if the division of roles of these jobs and jobs requiring high-level skills is clarified and training and other programs are developed in line with such a division.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 10, 2015)


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