Research

My main research interest is in the care of older people in Britain and Japan, particularly the history, the mixed economy of care – examining the state, family and civil society – and comparative social policy analysis. My  research to date includes: the Leverhulme-funded research project on ‘The voluntary sector and care for older people: Lessons from Britain and Japan’; a PhD on ’20th century residential care for older people in Britain and Japan’ (The book based on my PhD thesis: The Care of Older People: England and Japan, A Comparative Study (Pickering & Chatto, 2013); and Community University Engagement (CUE) East-funded local qualitative outreach projects.

Research project summaries and related publications:

1. Leverhulme-funded research project: The voluntary sector and care for older people: Lessons from Britain and Japan (2012-15)

Principal applicant & grant holder: Dr Mayumi Hayashi (King’s College London)

Funding:                                      Leverhulme Trust

Funding period:                         May 2012 to April 2015

Award:                                          Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

About the research:

Context: All governments face the challenge of global ageing. This is particularly true in Britain and Japan, which must meet increasing demand for social care from growing older populations while recognising serious socio-economic constraints. Both countries’ governments have sought cost-effective and durable mechanisms to deliver high-quality, affordable care. The home care service specifically has been recognised and promoted as being crucial to maintaining the wellbeing and long-term independence of older people.

The most salient recent policy intervention in both countries has attempted to further diversify the mixed economy of service delivery of statutory home care provision, enabling it to attract a broader spectrum of providers, particularly the voluntary sector. However, because this intervention coincided with public spending cuts, its results have been largely disappointing. First, faced with low or decreasing fees for statutory home care, providers struggle to remain viable and develop stable workforces. Secondly, statutory home care provision has lagged behind in Japan, while in Britain it has shrunk: demand therefore remains unmet.

Accordingly, the potential role of the voluntary sector has appeared, albeit on slender evidence, increasingly attractive to politicians, policy-makers and the sector’s own proponents, resonating strongly with recent political rhetoric about the Big Society and its Japanese equivalent.

Aims and objectives: In the context of sometimes exaggerated claims, this project attempts to elucidate the characteristics and potential role of voluntary sector providers targeting the delivery of home care within and/or outside an evolving competitive and under-funded quasi-market of statutory home care. It involves establishing how voluntary sector agencies can position themselves to provide statutory services in competition with private companies. It also explores the current and potential ‘gap-filling’ role of voluntary organisations to meet growing unmet need, noting their strengths and weaknesses.

Methods: The empirical base of the project consists mainly of interviews with key personnel in voluntary organisations, including care workers and volunteers, and with senior local authority officials. Its perspective is therefore organisational, highlighting best practice and identifying the challenges encountered in home care delivery.

Conclusions: The project concludes by evaluating voluntary home care agencies, and offers suggestions for refining the home care market, and reflections on how experiences and best practice from Britain and Japan could be shared to reinforce Big Society policies. Ultimately, the project findings are intended to inform evidence-based practice and policy planning for home care for older people and the role of voluntary organisations in Britain, Japan and elsewhere.

 

2. PhD on 20th century residential care for older people in Britain and Japan (2005-10) My thesis compared residential care development for Britain and Japan’s older people since the beginning of each country’s Poor Laws. Empirically grounded historical analysis confirmed the ‘problem’ of care of older people in both countries as being deeply rooted in this legacy and strongly influenced by cultural norms; particularly the persistent stigma associated with institutionalisation. Diversity and complexity in long-term social care and continued reliance on family carers challenged current assumptions concerning progress. The research findings contributed to policy discourse regarding solutions to challenges in social care. The book based on my PhD thesis: The Care of Older People: England and Japan, A Comparative Study (Pickering & Chatto) was published in April 2013.

3. CUE East-funded project on Sustainable long-term care for older people (2010) This local outreach project investigated experiences of ‘person-centred care’ through interviews with care home residents and staff across Norfolk. While positive experiences among better-off residents were found, many poorer and dependent residents lacked the information, support or advice assumed by this model. The findings were disseminated through the project website, publications and public meetings. The project provided an enhanced and enriched understanding of residential care for older people locally and promoted community-UEA engagement in this critical social policy area. Read more in the Project Summary and Project Evaluation Report.

4. CUE East-funded project on Community care and social engagement for older people in Norfolk (2011 to date) Building on the previous project, this project, also funded by CUE East, focussed on community care and social engagement for older people living at home in Norfolk, exploring first-hand experiences and views through interviews. The good practice identified has been fed into engagement activities and one-to-one befriending for isolated older people. Meanwhile, the ‘voices’ collected have been shared through public talks, local carers’ meetings and school visits, enhancing community-UEA links and reaching a wide audience. One key feature to emerge is the significant contribution made by the voluntary and informal sector, often involving older people, as formal volunteers and/or informally as carers or as friends and neighbours giving assistance. Without this essential help, many older people could not remain at home and would lose ‘social engagement’ opportunities. Older people are therefore very often ‘contributors’ to the ‘Big Society’. Read more in the project’s full Report: The Care of Older People in Norfolk: Experiences of social engagement, informal care and volunteering and the Project Summary.

5. Japan’s care of older people (2010 to date) My articles include Testing the limits of care for older people in the Guardian and The care of older people in Japan: myths and realities of family ‘care’ in History & Policy. The latter considered the history of family care in Japan, the cultural assumptions that supported limited state provision and the problems of both family- and state-oriented approaches to care.

6. Japan’s voluntary time-banking in elderly care (2010 to date) Japan led a pioneering role in ‘time-banking’ in elderly care, featuring local mutual help networks based upon exchanges of non-monetary currencies – ‘time credits’. For details, see Japan’s Fureai Kippu time-banking in elderly care: origins, development, challenges and impact in International Journal of Community Currency Research. I gave presentations to the Cabinet Office (March 2011) and National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in London (May 2011). I continue to advise the Cabinet Office and am also a consultant on Windsor and Maidenhead Council’s Big Society volunteering scheme CareBank.

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