When you’re a care worker in Japan, what is your day like? What kind of work do you do? We interviewed some people who have experience working in nursing care about their lives as care workers. Nursing care facility services can be available 24 hours a day, so depending on the type of work you do, you may have to work night shifts. Even so, everyone seems to be earnestly studying nursing care and Japanese in their spare time from their busy jobs.
Daily schedule 
A lot of care workers start work around 8:30 a.m. and finish around 5:30 p.m. Depending on the facility (workplace), there may also be a system for early shifts and late shifts. Let’s look at the typical daily schedule of some care workers at a facility.
A Day in the Life of Mr./Ms. J (Philippines) (Day Shift)
7:30 Wake up
8:50 Check team notes, morning meeting, handover
9:15 Diaper changes, nursing care related to leaving one’s bed
10:00 Hydration, recreation
11:00 Lunch preparation, medical record entry
11:45 Meal delivery, nursing care at mealtimes
12:00 Break (lunch break)
13:00 Oral cavity care, toilet check
14:00 Nursing care related to leaving one’s bed, diaper changes
15:00 Snack preparation, nursing care at mealtimes, toilet guidance
16:00 Medical record entry, dinner preparation, diaper changes
17:20 Work finishes
22:00 Go to bed
A Day in the Life of Mr./Ms. C (Vietnam) (Day Service)
8:00 Leave home, take the bus to work
8:30 Morning meeting, pick up users from their homes
9:30 Take blood pressure & temperatures, nursing care related to bathing
12:00 Break (lunch break)
13:00 Preparation for users returning home
15:30 Toilet guidance and support, take users home
16:30 Clean up, records
17:30 Work finishes
18:00 Go home
The first thing to do when you get to work is read the records. The day starts after assessing the users’ conditions from the previous day and through the night, checking for any changes.” Ms. HOANG THI NGOC ANH from Vietnam, who was working at a facility in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, told us about the most time-consuming tasks in the morning and afternoon.
“The most time-consuming job in the morning is nursing care related to toilet needs. I guide them to use the toilet and change diapers. The most time-consuming job in the afternoon is nursing care related to bathing. It takes about one to four hours.”
In addition, nursing care is provided around the clock at nursing care facilities with residents, so there are also night shifts. As a small number of staff are responsible for that job, it carries a lot of responsibility.
A Day in the Life of Mr./Ms. C (Philippines) (Night Shift)
16:15 Shift starts, handover
17:15 Dinner preparation
17:45 Nursing care at mealtimes, clearing away meals, toilet guidance
19:20 Break (dinner)
20:00 Nursing care for those who are bedridden, diaper changes
20:30 Night shift work (filling out records, etc.)
23:00 Standby on the floor (to answer nurse calls, etc.)
1:30 Diaper changes
3:00 Patrol, diaper changes
5:00 Breakfast preparation, nursing care related to leaving one’s bed
7:30 Meal delivery, nursing care at mealtimes, clearing away meals, toilet guidance
9:20 Shift finishes
What work do you enjoy?
Ms. Riswanti, from Indonesia, says this of the work she enjoyed 一 “They complimented my singing when we sang together! We also have a good time when we talk about things we’re interested in, the conversation gets really lively. For example, talking about cats to a user who likes cats, or having a user who likes to sing to teach me a song, or singing along together.”
Mr. Albert Fernandez, who worked at a nursing care facility in Okayama Prefecture, gave some tips on how to have fun working with the elderly. “There are three topics that work well with the elderly: ① weather, ② food, and ③ how they have been sleeping. I think you can enjoy work with these three topics. We can also get a good idea of their condition by talking about these three things.”
Everyone seems to be trying to communicate well so they enjoy their job.
What work is the toughest (most difficult)?
The type of work that people find difficult varies from person to person, but we often hear that nursing care related to bathing and nursing care related to assistance in moving are the toughest jobs. Bathing care involves the risk of falling, so care must be taken. Nursing care related to assistance in transferring, such as transferring an elderly person who cannot stand on their own to a wheelchair, takes time and requires some muscle power.
Also, jobs that took some time to be able to do on one’s own include leadership roles, working the night shift, and nursing care related to bathing. However, some people say that by working earnestly and taking their jobs seriously, “I was working the night shift on my own after three months,” and “Training and studying body mechanics was really useful in nursing care related to assistance in moving and transferring.” Everyone seems to be doing these difficult jobs with some studying and devising.
Do you have time to study for nursing care certification or Japanese?
Individuals from overseas working as care workers in Japan study hard every day for nursing care certifications and to improve their Japanese. “I studied every day to pass the nursing care test, at least two hours a day!” Ms. HOANG THI NGOC ANH from Vietnam told us. In addition, there are some facilities that offer various training programs. Mr. Albert Fernandez from the Philippines studied “once a week with a nursing care teacher and once a week with a Japanese teacher” at the nursing care facility he worked at in Okayama Prefecture.
In addition to studying with textbooks, some said, “I actively engaged in conversation with Japanese people and learned new words from movies and anime,” and “I learned Japanese by studying with books, watching TV and singing songs. If there were kanji or words I didn’t understand, I wrote them down and tried to memorize them.” Everyone seems to find a way to study in their spare time from their busy jobs.