Featured Topic 2: Nursing and Healthcare Initiatives

In fiscal year 2015 we made a full-fledged entry into nursing care business, as a new pillar for the Group, aiming to make Japan a global pioneer in healthy longevity. We are striving to provide the highest quality nursing and healthcare services in our rapidly aging society. In our Japanese life insurance business, we are also working to evolve into an enterprise that supports the Japanese publics’ efforts to be healthier, and we are actively engaged in nursing care and healthcare initiatives as a Group, including initiatives to maintain and improve the health of our employees.

Dialogue: Nursing and Healthcare Initiatives ― Future Issues and Expectations

We have included third party comments from Mr. Hideto Kawakita in our CSR Communication Reports since 2001. Mr. Kawakita shared his thoughts on issues facing nursing and healthcare initiatives in the future.

1. Striving to Create a “Workplace First” Nursing Care Business

Yasuki Kume (Left)
Director & Executive Secretary, Sompo Care Inc.
General Manager of Nursing and Health Care Business Department, Sompo Holdings, Inc.
Executive Officer of CEO Office, Sompo Care Message Inc. and Sompo Care Next Inc.

Hideto Kawakita (Right)
CEO, International Institute for Human, Organization and the Earth (IIHOE)
Publisher, Socio Management Review

Kume: The Sompo Care Group strives to contribute to the security, health, and wellbeing of our customers by providing the elderly and their families with the highest quality nursing care services possible (see Long-term Care Business: Supporting Japan, a Global Pioneer in Healthy Longevity).
Our current policies include providing tailor-made care that meets the needs of each and every individual, training personnel and the pursuit of quality services, and building a dynamic working environment. As people in Japan live longer lives and nursing care needs rise, we are facing a shortage of nursing care workers and a widening gap between the supply and demand for workers. To tackle these issues we are working on initiatives to strengthen our recruitment activities, enhance personnel training and improve the employee turnover rate. We are focusing on improving workplace skills in particular with the slogan “workplace first.” Specifically, we have introduced a scheme in which our senior management goes into the workplace to talk with frontline workers, and provide advice to resolve workplace-related issues. We also work quickly to investigate solutions at head office and offer proposals for solving issues that cannot be addressed in the workplace alone.
Human resource development is a key issue. In July 2017 we established Sompo Care University, an institution to enhance human resource development. We intend to build on traditional training methods to raise the quality of care offered and plan to enhance our training programs in collaboration with universities and specialized educational institutions. In the future we will strengthen the functions of the institution with an eye to making it a general educational institution for the nursing care industry at large, and not merely to train our own employees.
In an effort to create a more vibrant workplace, we have introduced an initiative to strengthen communication in the workplace, in which employees prepare “thank you” cards for each other. We believe this will foster a corporate culture that encourages employees to offer praise.

Kawakita: You’re tackling an extremely important aspect of this business. It is becoming more and more difficult to recruit people into nursing care, so it is essential to create a working environment employees want to remain longer.
I’d like to suggest creating and putting up a newsletter on the wall to foster such culture. If the newsletter is put up in a location where various people can read it, such as users and business partners that visit the facility, and not just employees, it should be easy to encourage employees to offer praise.
I am sure you can strengthen the workplace by creating a culture in which someone assists employees who are unsure of how to respond or who have anxieties, in other words, a culture in which employees support each other at work. Expressing gratitude and praise is more effective when doing so for a stance or act of mutual support rather than merely as a good action.

Kume: With regard to the use of ICT and digital technology, we are developing and researching technology that we expect will be used in nursing care in collaboration with Sompo Digital Lab, which works on the digital field the Group is strengthening. One such example is an initiative that uses sensors to monitor patient safety. This initiative offers peace of mind to both patients and their families while also improving employee productivity and making their work easier.

Kawakita: It is important to work together with various companies with various kinds of technology. To ensure employees remain with the company, it is important not only to introduce technology but also to continue to use and improve such technology.

Kume: From a human resource diversity perspective, we decided to investigate recruiting nursing care staff from other countries in the future following the deregulation of the national Technical Internship Training Program in the nursing care business. We will also consider developing our operations outside Japan, and plan to use such program in the future to train personnel who will play a crucial role in the development of our nursing care business in each country.

Kawakita: It is extremely important for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, including nationality, to have a program that offers training in the workplace. It is also important to work together with specialist organizations to train personnel who can continue to work in nursing care in Japan, and not just to offer language and cultural training. While the high turnover of employees in the nursing care industry is often cited as an issue, very little research and analysis has been conducted into why workers leave the industry or into the trends. I hope you will consider tackling this issue.

Kume: We are aware of the importance of analyzing the cause and will continue to take measures to respond to this issue.

Kawakita: There have been times when it has not been possible to recruit personnel such as after large-scale disasters. There is a tendency for non-regular employees in particular to have to relocate following disasters involving family. Securing childcare is virtually impossible which in turn prevents employees from returning to work. Given this, it is important to think about how to enhance the care and support offered to employees’ families. I have high expectations in Sompo Care Group’s nursing care business.

Kume: Thank you so much. We will continue to work towards making Japan a global pioneer in healthy longevity.

Building a Theme Park for the Security, Health, and Wellbeing of Customers in the Nursing and Healthcare Field

Shinichi Shizume (Left)
General Manager, Theme Park Promotion Group, Management Planning Division
Sompo Holdings, Inc.

Hideto Kawakita (Right)
CEO, International Institute for Human, Organization and the Earth
Publisher, Socio Management Review

Shizume: Our department is responsible for building a platform to develop new businesses and services, promote collaboration between businesses, and improve quality throughout the Group for realizing a theme park for the security, health, and wellbeing of our customers.
We are currently focused on initiatives for the healthcare and elderly, and it is these I would like to talk about with you today.
Specific initiatives include mental health initiatives that support healthier working styles, initiatives such as Linkx, that help extend customers’ healthy life expectancy, a range of driving assistance services for the elderly aiming to contribute to a safer automobile society, and initiatives to improve service quality in the nursing care business aiming to make Japan a society people enjoy longer lives.

Kawakita: With regard to products and services for mental health, in addition to providing them to customers, it is crucial to explain the functions and how to use tools, in other words, to show specifically the effects achieved by consultation, products and services. The expertise gained in Japan can be used throughout the world in the future such as in Southeast Asia where a similar situation may well occur.
With products and services to extend healthy life expectancy, it is important to offer proposals from a preventative perspective, in anticipation of risks. Would you tell me about such initiatives?

Shizume: We are currently focusing on the use of big data and on gathering healthcare data in particular. We believe that we can create the kind of data which covers from young people to the elderly by using big data collected as part of our Japanese life insurance business operations, health management and mental health consulting, and our nursing care business. It is extremely unusual for a corporate group to achieve this. We aim to generate evidence by accumulating healthcare data and then inform customers of the evidence, and to offer them new proposals. This will be a huge challenge for us.

Kawakita: As you say, this will be invaluable evidence.
Looking at driving support services for the elderly, a recent survey shows that about 10% of women aged 75 or over have a driving license. While this percentage is expected to be close to 30% in 2025, looking long-term, it is expected to fall again in the future. Given this, I strongly expect that you will create a system that supports drivers so that they can continue to drive for a long time.

Shizume: Reasons cited for handing over drivers licenses include aging, physical issues, and dementia. We are considering offering support to extend the period customers can drive safely in the form of driving technique diagnosis and other driving assistance methods that incorporate new perspectives using various different types of data.

Kawakita: I am interested to hear more about your nursing care initiatives. I believe that the user characteristics, such as their experiences and preferences, vary even among the same generation. That said, it should be possible to easily convey the value of your services by indicating that you can provide tailor-made care, and coordinate various products and services the Group offers.

Shizume: As a Group, we intend to offer proposals on home remodeling as one of our nursing care support services, and to propose strategies that help resolve issues facing not only the Group but also all care providers.

Kawakita: Partnerships are essential when developing operations.

Shizume: We are currently collaborating with various partners in different aspects of our business. We plan to continue this policy.

Kawakita: I look forward to seeing how you will develop going forward while creating value to customers and society.

Shizume: Thank you for your valuable comments.

Hideto Kawakita

CEO, International Institute for Human, Organization and the Earth (IIHOE)*
Publisher, Socio Management Review

After graduating university in 1987, joined Recruit Holdings Co.,Ltd., responsible for international hiring, corporate communications, and management support until 1991. He established IIHOE in 1994, after various positions, including as Japan representative in an international youth exchange NGO, and a policy secretary for a member of the National Diet of Japan. Provides consultation services to improve the management of civil society groups and corporations interested in social responsibility, support for building a hub for collaboration of citizens, businesses and governments, and support for social responsibility initiatives of corporations, civil society and local governments.

  • IIHOE: An NPO established in 1994 "for the democratic and balanced development for all the lives on the Earth."