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Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Foreign health officials tour facility

Staff writer

Thirteen foreign health care officials taking part in a training program in Japan took a tour Monday of Kaikaya, a day-care center operated by game maker Namco Ltd.in Yokohama, to experience entertainment-oriented care.

News photo
Finding the beat: Matebello Theresa Marite (center, front), a Japan International Cooperation Agency trainee from Lesotho, tries out an electronic drum game Monday at Namco Ltd.'s Kaikaya elderly day-care center in Yokohama as seniors and other JICA trainees from 12 countries look on. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the officials from 12 countries also visited the Tokai University hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture as well as a nearby nursery and health center.

Mongi Jokozela, an official in South Africa's Department of Health, was impressed by the facility.

"In my country, due to urbanization, people cannot take care of their parents at home," he said. "Here, old people are gathered and they're having fun. That is very good."

The trainees played games, including quiz and arcade video games, with regular Kaikaya visitors.

The facility is equipped with two game machines customized for the elderly and another developed for rehabilitation purposes to improve reflexes and balance.

Namco entered the welfare business with its Talking Aid machine for the speech-impaired in 1985, spokeswoman Yuko Tsukui said.

"We found out that elderly are more eager to play games than to rehabilitate with rehabilitation machines. A day-care center usually looks like a hospital. We wanted to make a facility where we would want to go, and decided to add fun elements," Tsukui said.

Hiroko Nakamura and Yoshiko Tanaka, who both come to the facility once a week, showed the trainees how to play a drum game.

The cost of Kaikaya, which opened in 2004, is subsidized.

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The Japan Times

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