日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

Makiba's Challenge as a Home for Elderly Persons


Makiba (meaning "pasture"), which is operated by Chubu District in Nisshin City, Aichi Prefecture, is a Kyodan-related home for elderly persons that provides nursing care and is included in the category of facilities that charge fees. The institution was founded in 1997 to support the spiritual life of retired pastors and believers. Now, 13 years later, 52 persons ranging in age from 63 to 99 are living at Makiba, including five couples. The ratio of men to women is one to three. Twenty of the residents need nursing care, and all the rooms are full. A total of 50 staff persons, including part-time workers, assist the residents. They are 11 nurses and 12 caregivers at the core of the home, along with physical rehabilitation trainers, a care-support manager, life counselors, and additional staff. The number of Christians among the residents and staff is 50 percent.
The home has a close, cooperative relationship with Minamiyama Church, which is located in the same area, and a large number of persons from Makiba attend the worship service, Bible study, and prayer meeting there. Oshima Sumio, pastor of Minamiyama Church, also conducts a monthly worship service, with communion, and a weekly Bible gathering at Makiba. In addition, members of Minamiyama Church do various kinds of volunteer work there, and the head of the institution, Makiba Director Suzuki Takuya, is a believer at Minamiyama Church.
Makiba's Journey Since Its Founding
Pastor Toda Isuke, who strongly promoted the building of a residence for retired pastors, gained the cooperation of Chubu District and established the home with the sanction of the Kyodan. However, the task of getting the operation of the home on track has not been a smooth one.
When the Public Nursing Care Insurance System was introduced in the year 2000, management of the home became easier, to some extent, but there were still many problems related to operation. Suzuki Takuya, who has outstanding business expertise, became the director in 2004 and took complete responsibility for operations. As a result of his continued efforts, full occupancy has been maintained for the last four years, and from the end of March 2010 the home has operated without borrowing funds.
The need for a nursing care facility developed because of the aging of the residents. For several years various plans had been devised but not realized. Then three years ago, through anonymous gifts that can only be thought of as God's provision, an addition specifically designed as a nursing care facility was constructed. The chapel within the building enables residents who can no longer go to the nearby church to attend worship services for the rest of their lives.
Daily Life at Makiba
At Makiba, every morning begins with an employees' worship service, including hymns, Bible reading, an exposition of a Bible passage by Director Suzuki, and prayer. This is followed by reports of the residents' conditions, et cetera.
Miwata Yoshiko, currently a subleader of the care-workers team, made up her mind at age 50 to become qualified to serve as a helper, then entered Makiba as a part-time worker. For Miwata, who had been baptized 30 years earlier, serving at a Christian place of work had been an aspiration."Is this a church? Oh, it's an institution!" she recalls thinking, and she is grateful daily for the home's work environment. Resident Yasui Teruo, who had seemed stubborn and demanding to her in the beginning, was baptized at the age of 91. Perhaps Miwata's prayers reached him. Now, it is a routine for the two of them to join hands and pray each morning.
Kozaki Hiroo, a retired pastor, has some happy news. Machida Yoko, who serves as a care-support manager and a nurse, will be baptized soon. A participant in the employee worship each morning, she was later inspired by an experience she had while nursing a resident who, although facing death, repeatedly said "Thank you" and had complete assurance that she was going to go to be with Jesus. Seeing her, Machida was forced to consider the kind of death she was likely to experience. The institution has had six persons from among the residents and staff who have been baptized since its establishment.
"Respect for the Dignity of Each Person's Character" as the Home's Philosophy
An article entitled "Private Homes for Elderly Persons in the 24 Prefectures: Best Ranking of the 1,556 Institutions," published in the weekly magazine Diamond's May 20, 2009 special issue on Nursing Care, ranked Makiba as number one in Aichi Prefecture in the nursing care, private institution division. This shows that Makiba is the best home in Aichi Prefecture.
Presently, there are 40 persons who want to live at Makiba and are waiting for the opportunity. However, there is no plan to enlarge the facility to increase the number of residents. "We can care for each resident's specific needs because there are just 50 persons. We want to send the message to society that we can provide this kind of care because we are a religious corporation and our institution's philosophy is to 'always have the same respect for the dignity of each person's character.'" (Tr. RT)
--Nishio Misao, member
Suginami Church, West Tokyo District
KNL Editorial Committee
Based on an article in Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend)
 教団の介護付き有料老人ホームとして、中部教区が運営するシルバーホーム「まきば」が愛知県日進市にある。1997年に隠退教師と信徒の信仰生活を支援する住まいとして設立された。13年の時を経て、現在「まきば」には63~99歳まで52名の入居者がおる。うち5組が夫婦、男女比は1:3、要介護は20 名、満室状態にある。看護職員11名、介護職員12名を中心に機能訓練指導員、ケアマネージャー、生活相談員ら、非常勤職員も含めると総勢約50名のスタッフが彼らの生活を支える。クリスチャン比率は入居者、職員ともに半々である。同じエリアにある南山教会とは深い協力関係があり、「まきば」から多くの人たちが礼拝や聖書研究会、祈祷会に出席している。一方「まきば」でも、南山教会の大島純男牧師を中心にして月一回の礼拝・聖餐式、毎週の聖書の集いも行われている。また南山教会には「まきば」で様々なボランティアをする教会員がおり、「まきば」の施設長の鈴木卓也さんも南山教会の信徒である。
 「まきば」は、隠退教師の老後の住まい作りを強力に推進していた戸田伊助牧師が中部教区からの協力を取り付け、教団が認可し、設立された。しかし、経営が軌道に乗るまでの道のりは平坦ではなかった。 2000年に介護保険が導入されてやや楽になったが、まだ経営上多くの問題があった。2004年に営業手腕に優れた鈴木卓也さんが施設長に着任、経営の責任を一切引き受け、努力を重ねた結果、ここ四年来満室状態をほぼ維持し、今年の三月末の決算では初めて無借金経営に転じた。
 現在、「まきば」への入居希望の待機者は40人もいるが、入居者を増やすために規模を拡大していくことは考えていないという。「きめの細かい心遣いなど、50人だから出来ることがあります。入居者を'ずっと同じ人格として尊重すること'を施設の理念として、宗教法人だからこそ出来る介護があるということを、社会に発信していきたいと思います。」 (「信徒の友」に基づいたまとめ)西尾操(KNL編集委員・杉並教会員)

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