This weekend I stopped at Tetsu's convalescent home (and took him a Starbuck's coffee). He wanted to show me the new bath area that the convalescent home has just put in. Japanese baths are not a thrilling topic for today's post but Tetsu is proud of the area and thought I should take pictures.
The convalescent home where Tetsu works is rather stark and institutional... It is a fairly old building and subsidized by the prefecture but they are trying to make it more pleasant and the management started with the bathing area.
Some specialist spent years researching how to care for the elderly and handicapped and allow them to enjoy Japanese bathing without all the machines and lifts and mechanics that in the past have been involved.
This LOOKS like a simple bathtub etc. but actually the HEIGHT of the tub and chair and knobs, the PLACEMENT of hand rails, the SHAPE of the hand rails, the SLANT of the floor, the SMELL of the wood, the AIR FLOW have all been analyzed and adjusted for maximum ease and safety for the residents. And of course the staff have been trained and led through a choreograph of movements and positions that allows them to safely bathe residents and ease them into and lift them out of the deep wooden tubs without harming their own backs.
Three years went into developing the three bathing rooms (two single tubs and one large tub for two or three people to use at once... a Japanese custom). The whole thing is designed so that the people taking a bath won't feel like they are in an institution but rather visiting a relaxing hot spa someplace.
There is a waiting room where the waiting residents in their wheelchairs are served tea (a flat TV on the opposite wall) and a changing room. One of the next steps is going to be having the outside area landscaped.
And on the other side of the building is an area for video viewing and even an esthetician's chair. (And there is an esthetician on the staff!)
Slowly convalescent homes are changing in Japan for the better and I think it shows in Tetsu's pride.