Here’s this week’s Media Mix about recent news stories associated with senior nursing care and how they bear on government policy. One of the jumping off points for the column was a conversation that Masako had with a an old school friend of hers who now works as a caregiver at a day facility for seniors. Day facilities are not strictly speaking nursing homes. Users come for the day and don’t stay overnight. It’s like a children’s daycare center only for seniors. The son or daughter drops off the elderly parent so as not to leave that person alone at home during the day. The user doesn’t necessarily have to have a condition that makes it problematic for them to be alone, but according to K, Masako’s friend, many do.
Most of what K talked about had less to do with conditions for users than conditions for her and other workers. She admitted forthrightly that the owner of the facility where she works, a local construction company, is pretty tight-fisted with money. As a regular employee, she is entitled to paid vacations, but she’s never had one because they’re impossible to schedule owing to under-staffing issues. As far as pay goes, she says she has not seen any increase in her monthly salary ever since the government said it would earmark ¥12,000 a month more for each regularly employed nursing care worker last year. She did however, remember that some official did come to her workplace to check whether or not the increase had been passed on to workers and she told this person it hadn’t in her case, but there was no followup. She admits that she has wanted to talk to her supervisor about this increase in pay, since hers is so low to begin with, but she hasn’t had the opportunity to do so.
She says she doesn’t mind the work and doesn’t consider it over-taxing. She just wishes it paid more, and in a sense she may think that complaining about such things won’t get her anywhere. Though the turnover at her facility sounds typically high, nursing care is the only work available in her area (central Gunma Prefecture) for middle aged women like her. She doesn’t see much of an alternative, so as long as she isn’t too put out, she’ll put up with the status quo.