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Gov't to make manual to curb sexual harassment against care workers

In this June 27, 2016, file photo, a care worker helps a resident at a special nursing home for the aged in Ibaraki Prefecture. (Mainichi)

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will draw up a manual to help employers of care workers and nurses take measures to prevent and counter sexual and verbal harassment and violence against those workers from patients and their families by the end of this fiscal year, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The ministry will also carry out a survey on the status of such abuse against caregivers -- the first of its kind -- in a bid to improve their working conditions and make it easier to recruit newcomers.

The survey will mainly cover care and nursing services at the homes of patients, where visiting workers support daily routines such as bathing, and where visiting nurses offer guidance on how to take medicine. In many cases, female caregivers face higher risks of sexual harassment or verbal abuse.

A survey conducted this spring by the Nippon Careservice Craft Union (NCCU), a labor union of care workers, found that 30 percent of its members had experienced sexual harassment, while 70 percent said they faced verbal abuse or forcible demands.

A fiscal 2015 survey of registered nurses in the western Japan prefecture of Hyogo, led by professor Chifuyu Hayashi of Kobe City College of Nursing, found that 17 percent of respondents who reported harassment to their employers said nothing was done about those cases.

Based on those surveys, the NCCU and the Japanese Nursing Association have asked the health ministry to take countermeasures.

The ministry will examine the best practices for care providers, such as sending workers in two-person teams to patients' homes, and incorporate them in the upcoming manual. It will also analyze the results of its survey to formulate necessary countermeasures in time for the next revision of nursing-care benefits in fiscal 2021.

(Japanese original by Keisuke Harada, Medical Welfare News Department)

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