According to the UN World Population Prospects, 2015 Revision, key markets in Asia are in the midst of a growing gap between the number of retirees and those able to take care of them between now and 2050. Hong Kong is projected to see a 217% increase in population of those aged over 60 with a 78% decrease of 15–59 year olds, and Singapore is projected to experience a 272% increase in those aged over 60 with a 77% decrease of 15–59 year olds.
This phenomenon of an aging population is also very evident in Japan. Despite modestly comparable projections of a 13.6% increase in those over 60 years old and a 14% decrease in 15–59 year olds over the same period, such figures are compounded by a population that currently sits at approximately 127 million.
Regardless of population and actual size of gaps in age demographics, each of these countries is faced with the real concern of how to make their respective societies sustainable for the future. Moreover, a significant concern is what measures there might be for taking care of the elderly in light of their increasing numbers as it is predicted there will be fewer people to look after them going forward.
The Panasonic Group is looking to address precisely this concern on home ground. Under its housing subsidiary, PanaHome, and elderly care services subsidiary, ComHeart, it is now developing age-free nursing care facilities for the elderly in various locations throughout the Japanese islands. In addition to tapping on its expertise from a long history of dedicated nursing care services, Panasonic is equipping the homes with a wide range of nursing care products to assist the elderly. Such equipment includes its range of beds, toilets and showers that empower the elderly to undertake daily necessities independently.
Unique Value of Independence for Senior Residences
The point of enabling independence in the elderly is a key aspect of what makes Panasonic’s pursuit unique, and goes beyond its all-inclusive range of technology. Panasonic ensures that its entire facility is barrier-free, and carefully lays out bedroom and communal spaces, making the bathroom, wardrobe and door visible to residents – ensuring that residents, including those suffering from dementia, can visually remember and find what they need.
With this, residents of the home get a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing from less reliance on caretakers. Likewise, with each age-free facility limited to under 30 residents at a time, residents can enjoy a more homelike, peaceful experience. In turn, with multiple services able to be covered by a smaller number of staff, more attention to detail of each individual resident can be made, and operating costs are kept minimal.
Sustainable Business Model
“As demographics shift in Japan and in Asia as well, it’s important that we’re able to find ways to care for the elderly in a manner that they don’t feel stripped of their freedom,” says Ryosuke Saito, Manager, Age Free Business Promotion at PanaHome. “Of course, while offering our services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it’s necessary to do this in a financially sustainable manner.”
And this is achieved through the Panasonic Group’s integrated services. With internal furnishing using Panasonic’s nursing care product lineup; housing subsidiary PanaHome managing business development, standardised facility design, and construction; and care services subsidiary Comheart handling residential and operational services, the business model differentiates from all similar competitors.
Business Expansion in Full Swing
Panasonic’s new facility in Osaka, Japan, is the second full-fledged care home by the Panasonic Group to take full swing. The first home with Panasonic Group capabilities opened in September this year on the outskirts of Tokyo. Moving forward, Panasonic Comheart is set to establish 150 care homes by 2018, with a total of 50 of those sites in collaboration with Panahome as a fully integrated concept – representing a chance for landowners to invest in what promises to be a long-term operation with the security that comes from Panasonic’s exclusive ability to integrate all services.
“While Panasonic doesn’t have plans to bring its age-free facilities to other parts of Asia at this stage,” says Mr. Saito, “we’re keeping the possibility open as other ASEAN countries are expected to faced the same challenges as Japan in the near future.”