Raising Awareness of Volunteerism
ー“Emotional Care” which we are aiming to is empathizing with the elderly through active listening, and helping their autonomy by staying close.
The Univers Foundation has programs to give volunteer opportunities to seniors who are willing to contribute as active listeners for isolated elderly people. They have been continuing to do volunteer activities as talking companions of the friendly visit for emotional care of the elderly.
Since 1992, soon after the foundation was founded, we had conducted the two-week program of “University of Michigan the Geriatric Summer Seminar” for 10 years, that we dispatched specialists in the field of health and medical care such as doctors, nurses, and social workers to the University of Michigan. At the specialized clinic for the elderly under the umbrella of the University of Michigan Medical Center, so called the peer volunteers who were a part of constructed members of “Team Approach,” were working actively together with various specialists. “Peer” stands for a company and fellow worker. The elderly who used to receive medical treatment and recovered afterwards started volunteer training to visit the elderly’s home in local area regularly. For example, they went out together for the meal, talked together, and went to see a doctor together. This “Friendly-visit” activity was their main program.
Being the same generation help deepen mutual understanding. Referencing the peer volunteers in Michigan as one of the role models, we started “Univers Volunteers”.
In April of 1995, we began volunteer activities in Kobe to support mental healthcare of the elderly victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake who lived alone in temporary housing. In cooperation with the local social welfare council and a volunteer center, we were continuously visiting the temporary housing in the cities of Kobe, Nishinomiya, and Ashiya in order to provide emotional care for them.
Years passed since the earthquake occurred, temporary housings have closed. However, we have been continuing to visit the elderly living in reconstructed buildings and new houses. Also we hold tea parties in Kobe, Ashiya and Takatsuki for the residents to rebuild community where the elderly can live in peace.
Help the commemorative ceremony "1．17 Lights for KOBE"
"Friendly visit" to temporary housing
The Univers Foundation had hold "Volunteer Training Course" to support elderly’s emotional care from 1997 till 2010. This course where psychiatrists and clinical psychologists delivered lectures, provided learning of basic attitude as a volunteer who mentally support elderly. People who completed this course became the main members to begin volunteer activities in Tokyo in August, 2000.
In the April of 2001, the eruption of Mount Oyama on the Miyake Island occurred and we started friendly visits to the victims and this volunteer activity continued until the completion of their return to the Miyake Island in February, 2005. Currently, we have been continuing friendly visits to the elderly in Tachikawa and a few neighbor cities. Community General Support Center and a care manager of Designated in Home Long-Term Care Support Provider introduce the elderly who are alone at home, or with a family care giver.
Moreover, to be part of active listening volunteer network, we participated in “The 8th Japan Society of Care Management Conference” which was held in 2009 at the Pacific Yokohama Hall. In November of 2011, at “The 20th Japan Volunteer Festival in Tokyo” we gave the presentation to share their experiences of friendly visits and affirmed the importance of active listening conducted by volunteers.