A visiting Japanese family presented Cairns Community Business Partner Karen Gerrard with an opportunity to embrace Japanese culture and customs to deliver high quality care.
Toshiko Sakamoto travelled from Japan with her husband and Japanese carer to visit her son Sam, daughter in law June and grandchildren Taka and Coco.
While Toshiko’s carer took care of physical day-to-day care for their eight-day stay, Envigor stepped in to provide Toshiko’s personal care, including daily shampooing – a cultural ritual in Japan.
“Envigor provided daily personal care, including a hair shampoo and condition. This is a daily cultural requirement for Japanese people,” says Karen.
“Apparently some of the young ladies wash their hair up to three times a day – after getting up, when they get ready to go out in the evening and then again before they go to bed. Clean hair is a must at all times.”
Karen says that in preparation for Toshiko’s arrival, she was able to put a short term care plan in place that meant as soon a Toshiko arrived that care could begin.
“Envigor was able to start services on the day Toshiko arrived from overseas. This was very beneficial as Toshiko had been sitting in her wheelchair for nearly 12 hours (travel and waiting time).”
Karen’s preparation didn’t end there. Before Toshiko’s arrival, Karen put together some printed sheets to make communication easier and to put Toshiko at ease.
“I laminated a sheet of photos of the carers, with their names underneath, which I gave to Toshiko before we commenced the care so that she would know who was coming each day.
“I also used an online translating site to develop a sheet of commonly used words to assist us to communicate with Toshiko in Japanese. I then emailed these to Sam to make sure that it was correct. He changed a couple of words to a local dialect but felt that it was excellent that we’d developed this tool. I then emailed it to each of the lifestyle support assistants (LSAs) and encouraged them to become familiar with as many words as possible, which they did.
“Toshiko took these sheets back to Japan with her to show her family and friends. Which was lovely to hear.”
The Envigor team made sure they built a strong relationship with Toshiko to overcome any language barriers and Toshiko’s granddaughter Coco also helped to translate when necessary.
“Coco was always present to assist as interpreter, as she can switch between the languages effortlessly. As I reminded the LSAs, 90 percent of communication is body language, so they got very good at watching facial expressions and body movements carefully, but unobtrusively.”
Karen says she enjoyed providing short term care to Toshiko and working with the Sakamoto family.
“I was present for the first and last support service to ensure that the care was adequate for Toshiko and that she was ready to go straight out to the airport for the return flight to Japan.
“I got an email and a photo from Sam to let me know his parents arrived home safely and it was great to hear they were very happy with the support we delivered. They were able to take Mum and Dad out and about in Cairns and the Tablelands knowing that mum was clean and comfortable for the day.”