Civil Society

March 4, 2018


Community Nurse Project to Elevate Community Health Across Japan

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues Resilience Well-Being 

Community Nurse Project website
Community Nurse Project website

Bono Inc., a Japanese startup, launched a community nurse project as a new business segment in May 2016. The project's mission is to train nurses who will support the development of healthy communities. By creating value needed for the development of new community spaces, the project will explore new systems and designs that will help people connect in ways that are adaptive to societal change.

A community nurse is a professional medical practitioner who brings expertise and knowledge to the building of partnerships with people living in a community. Through close contact and deepening relationships with residents over the middle to long term, they strive to elevate the overall health of their community. Characteristic differences between community nurses and nurses who work at hospitals, welfare facilities, or in the home lie in the content and scope of their services.

We could say that nurses who work at hospitals specialize in supporting people with health issues, while community nurses specialize in providing the tools and opportunities for community residents to enjoy their daily lives. The core job of community nurses is to plan programs and activities designed to stimulate and revitalize the community. They try to create opportunities and environments where people can gather and where they themselves can have regular contact with residents. Within these relationships, they strive to raise health awareness, detect illness early on, and facilitate access to medical, welfare, and public facilities.

Their work location is neither a hospital nor a home-visiting nurse station but a community. Their target clients are local residents, sick and healthy alike. As they always are among and close to local people, they can cover aspects of healthcare hospitals cannot cover, and when needed, they help residents to access appropriate experts.

There are three reasons why community nurses are needed in Japanese society today.

1) Limits of local medical and nursing care due to a shrinking and aging population
Community nurses' operate in an area one stage prior to that targeted by local medical and healthcare services. They aim to raise the health level of the entire region and create closer relations and networks among the people living there. Their cooperation with specialized institutions helps lower the burden on local medical and healthcare services.

2) Limits of local community power
The traditional lifestyle of Japanese families and communities in which people support each other has virtually disappeared. Communities across Japan are seeing a disappearance of long-lived traditions and an increasing number of "old couple" households, in which a senior cares for a senior. Community nurses insert themselves between members of the community to rebuild ties and restore the mutual-support functions of the community.

3) New work culture that allows nurses to work out of hospitals
Alongside the shortage of hospital nurses, another issue is the difficulty many hospital nurses face in finding ways to continue working while taking care of their children. The community nurse can be a new career choice for such nurses, as it allows them to utilize their expertise outside the hospitals.

Bono's community nurse project is currently providing the following support services for community nurses so they can more effectively build healthy communities:

  • Operating educational and training programs for acquiring necessary skills
  • Creating spaces across Japan where community nurses can work and connect local governments with residents
  • Working with local businesses to create jobs and launch ventures so community nurses can work on a continued basis

Bono expects to grow the community nurse project further since it meets the needs of both local communities and nurses. It is hoped that, by being a bridge for building partnerships with residents, community nurses will serve an important role in elevating the overall health of their communities.