In a country grappling with the challenges of a super-ageing population, Japan has promoted community-based integrated care since 2006. With a focus on building small-scale, multifunctional community integrated service centers, the nation has achieved significant milestones in elderly care. In 2020 alone, 5.8 million older adults availed long-term care services monthly, totaling 10.5 million throughout the year.
According to the latest Ageing Asia’s white paper, “Assessing the different ageing policies in the Asia Pacific region,” at the heart of Japan's initiative lies the concept of community-based integrated care system, comprising five integral elements: Housing, Medical Care, Long-Term Care, Preventive Care, and Daily Living Support. This innovative system fosters community-specific care deeply rooted in the local ethos and integrates medical and long-term services seamlessly.
AOI Care Center
One remarkable example of this approach is AOI Care, located in Fujisawa, just 50 kilometers south of Tokyo. Unlike conventional senior housing, AOI Care operates within a residential neighborhood, fostering connections between generations. The facility comprises a residential area catering to seven elderly adults with dementia and an "open section" offering 24-hour access for seniors who wish to visit or stay briefly, according to PH design.
AOI Care's success is attributed to its unconventional care program, where seniors actively engage in daily activities, regardless of their frailty or cognitive condition. The facility encourages interaction between older adults and children from the community, creating a sense of purpose and joy for the seniors. This intergenerational approach has not only earned AOI Care accolades, including the prestigious "Kanagawa Welfare Service Awards," but has also been featured in films, showcasing its innovative practices, according to the latest Ageing Asia’s white paper.
Moreover, AOI Care prioritizes neighborhood integration by strategically locating itself near public transportation hubs, ensuring seniors' access to essential services. The center's walkable neighborhood, coupled with flexible visitation modalities, further enriches the lives of its residents, allowing them to plan their daily activities and fostering connections with the community, according to PH Design.
In a world where elderly care models are continuously evolving, Japan's community-based integrated care, exemplified by AOI Care, stands out as a testament to the power of innovative, inclusive, and neighborhood-oriented approaches. As Japan leads the way in redefining elderly care, AOI Care serves as an inspiring beacon, demonstrating the transformative impact of community-centric initiatives in enhancing the lives of seniors and fostering social harmony.
Photo credit: Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation, based in Taiwan