JHC Itabashi

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1984 JHC Oyama Acquisition of job-related skills and habits
1986 JHC Shimura Peer making and accustoming to the rhythm of everyday living
1998 JHC Akatsuka Realization of self-help employment through operation of a bakery and a cafe
1999 JHC Akizakura Welfare activities for welfare service recipients shut-in at home through operation of food service and a light meal restaurant and a cafe
1991 JHC Izumi Workshop with culture center functions
1992 JHC San Marina Club house aiming at self-help activities
1994 Residence Niji (Rainbow) Group home with community living support system
1995(6) Harmony Peer support network center
1997 Produce Michi (Road) Community job placement support center
1998 Super-Peer Local living support center
2001 Working Try Referral-type job placement support center
  1. Development of skill in community life
    • Care management
    • Self-help group
    • Employment with support
    • Club house
    • Peer counseling
  2. Evolution of peer support
  3. Evolution of community life support network

At the time of establishment of JHC Itabashi, a simple survey was conducted on the persons with mental disabilities both in hospitals or outpatients through which we ascertained five principal hopes and aspirations from them, namely:

  1. Want to work
  2. Want to be able to live alone (independently)
  3. Want to have friends
  4. Want to continue hobby and study
  5. Want to be useful to other people

JHC Itabashi’s activities were started by ensuring that these five hopes and aspirations are reflected in them.

The first task that we tackled was the establishment of Oyama Workshop whose program centered on the preparation for employment, for which the users of the public health center’s day-care service desired strongly. It preceded the ratification of the ILO Convention. The mainstay of the program we adopted was to instill “work personality” in them whereby they become accustomed to reporting to work on time as required and performing work as prescribed. In the process leading to the establishment, the public health center’s day care OB (former personnel) were our biggest collaborators and most dependable partners. This fact gave us the maximum strength in rendering our service centered on the need of the persons with mental disabilities themselves.

Secondly, we established JHC Shimura in response to the desire expressed to be able to live independently. The program was geared to help those who have experienced a long-term hospital stay to overcome problems with inter-personal relations that they are likely to encounter and also to help them acquire skill to cope with problems related to daily living routine. Toward this end, we placed nurses nearby and other personnel available to serve meals provide companionship and help resting to reflect the users’ expressed desires, thus we provided our program to help them acquire the rhythm of routine of daily life as well as finding friends in the community.

The third JHC Akatsuka started by standing up against the challenge of becoming a proprietor who made and sold own products rather than serving as a subcontractor to some enterprise. Later on, international volunteers indicated that this form of self-employment was prevalent in Europe and US. Purchase orders came mostly from those institutions that provide mental health and welfare service that the enrollees themselves required but gradually the customers begun spreading among schools, citizens’ groups and cafes.

The accumulation of experience with these workshops led to the establishment of the fourth workshop JHC Akizakura for meal service to aged persons living at home. It gave us the opportunity to function as a participant in local welfare work with the support from the Social Welfare Council. The challenge associated with this workshop helped to give us power to promote the better understanding from citizenry since it is not only a undertaking for those who needed sheltering and training but also it constituted a project that is essential to achieving the QOL (quality of life) for the community residents.

The fifth and latest JHC Izumi was designed to partially introduce the club house model of Fountain House in New York and brought in the program to conduct culture classes and to publish news magazines for subscription.The true value of this program is in rendering citizen service from the point of view of providers of newsworthy information collected from the point of view of consumers or in serving as lecturers at culture classes. Joint activities evolved where the persons with mental disabilities themselves and ordinary citizens get together work with information about any social barriers that might exist and as well as any emotional barriers. Its activities aim at promoting the strength of peer support among residents of the same community.

Thus the course of evolution of JHC Itabashi’s workshops posed as a challenge of materializing the metamorphose from recipients of mental health welfare service to providers of service for local citizen through the program to render support in acquiring necessary personal skills. Also, JHC Itabashi’s daily activities have led us to awareness that we come to share the sense of trust in the latent possibilities. It serves as the source of power to join forces in creating services required to build a heart-warming community (See Table 2).

Table 2: Development of Skill in Community Life

1984 JHC Oyama Janitorial work
1986 JHC Shimura Sewing work and club activities
Nighttime Groups 3 locations (Itabashi Ward Project) Informational exchange, dinner meeting, joint use of specialists
1987 JHC Akatsuka Baking and sale of cakes and cookies
1989 JHC Akizakura Meals service for elderly persons and persons with disabilities stay at home
1990 JHC Izumi Compilation and publication of news magazine “Peer Mental Health”
  • Workshops to provide activities to support life in the community
  • Contribution to the society by persons with mental disabilities themselves as providers of service to local residents

This service is subsidized uniquely by Itabashi Ward at its own volition as is the clubhouse to be described later in this paper. In the mid-1980’s, only limited mental health and welfare service was available (in term of the number of sheltered workshops, about 12% of the current number) and what was available was limited to daytime. Having one’s wish for job granted would have meant having to give up the opportunity to avail himself to the community life support service. JHC Itabashi’s new attempt to provide nighttime care was prompted by the suicide committed by a member of a workshop who had chosen to go independent on the occasion of his brother’s marriage and was about to be gainfully employed. A group of volunteers including public health nurses, social workers from hospitals, members of workshop staff had gotten together for nighttime group activities to cope with this kind of problems. It so happened that these volunteers related the story of their activities to Director of Public Sanitation of Itabashi Ward Office whom they met at a subway station on their way home. With the support from the director, this service came to be subsidized uniquely by Itabashi Ward.

These activities are now taking place at three different locations. The feature of this group is to prove a venue where they can share and jointly make use of the expertise of their peers and of support from specialists and ordinary citizens in order to cope with problems they are confronted with in the course of their daily life. The activities may be termed as mutual self-help among persons with mental disabilities who live in the same community through informational exchanges and occasional dinner meetings. It also functions as the venue for job placement and post-employment counseling.

(3) International exchange-mutual support system

The strongest impact on JHC Itabashi came with the talk given on the topic of “Consumers’ Activities” by a professional rehabilitation consultant from the City of Sacramento who himself was an afflicted person. The lecture meeting was held in commemoration of the opening of the fourth workshop, “Akizakura”

According the talk titled “Journey to Recovery”, the speaker was born in a mental hospital where his mother was hospitalized and brought up by his stepfather until he reached the age of 16 when he ran away from home to hop from one job to another about 20 times. While studying about social welfare at university, he had an experience of being hospitalized in a mental hospital but managed to graduate from university while continuing to receive management service from social workers as well as medication. Following the graduation, he worked as a job coach assistant and received a master’s degree from a graduate school at the age of 42, while busily engaged in the effort to establish a consumers’ self-help center. He had been commissioned by the government as a consultant, which had led to his present position. All the while, he has continued receiving a disability pension from the government.

The journey to recovery taken by one certain consumer serves as a proof of the importance of belief in the latent possibility that lies in each individual person and that of reciprocal actions in supportive circumstances which makes possible to fully explore such a possibility. The lecture gave us an opportunity to reassure of the common target we share with those who join hand in hand with us at JHC Itabashi so as to create the right environment where the individual quality and endeavor can be explored to the fullest extent. (See Figure 7 and Table 3)

Fig.7: Reciprocal Actions between Individual Conditions and Environmental Conditions

Individual conditions: personal level

Basic requirements for Living in the society

Impairment of mental function

  • Healthy and cultural life
  • Respect for personal integrity
  • Pursuit of happiness
  • Health, medical care, welfare,education and administration of justice

Repertory for expansion of QOL

Constraints on activities

  • Latent abilities and bringing potential into full play
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Work performance
  • Skills to cope with problem associated with daily living

Resource system for living in the society

Constraints on participation

  • Free-from-care citizen’s life that suits oneself
  • Abolishment of physical, institutional, informational and mental barriers
  • Resource of support both formal and informal
Environmental conditions: social level

Table 3: Fundamental Approach to Support for Independent Living in the Community

  • To aim at the development of both skills and environment for rendering support from a positive point of view that given an proper opportunity, people are able to take upon themselves to solve their own problem.
  • To turn our attention to reciprocal actions between individual conditions and environmental conditions

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