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Efforts of SPI A'EL Club 4F Joy Hills, 6-11 Nanpeidai-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

A pioneer that helps everyone realize their dreams of going out

Assisted-trip Travel Helpers who help people remember their dreams, hopes, and reasons to live

When bodily functions decrease as a result of aging, disease, and other factors, people sometimes lose the ability to go where they want to go and travel freely-a natural aspect of daily life-and can no longer experience the fun of living. 27 years ago (before long-term-care insurance systems were even established), SPI A'EL Club started up its training and dispatch business related to assisted trips and Travel Helpers (outing-support specialists) in order to create new possibilities for such people. Kyoichi Shinozuka, the CEO, talked to us about his company's specific efforts.

Various services to facilitate outings and trips

The services we currently provide fall into three general categories: (1) our assisted trips, which involve facilitating custom-made trips, (2) our one-day outings, during which our Travel Helpers provide support related to daily-life outings, such as going shopping, going to the theater, ceremonial occasions, and hospital transfers, and (3) our human-resource training business, which is intended to commercialize long-term-care-provider, retirement-home, and other outing-support service.
In addition, in collaboration with corporations and groups that do not perform travel business registration, we have set up a nationwide network of bases called Travel Helper Centers, which we use as regional bases to expand our service range. One major issue with community-based nursing-care welfare services is that they are limited. We hope to be able to resolve this issue by maintaining regional bases while pursuing far-reaching cooperation.

About Travel Helper certification

We created this certification for the purpose of training human resources to enable them to accompany our customers as caregiving and trip professionals. People with level 2 certification can accompany customers on round trips between Japan and foreign countries, and people with pre-level 2 certification can accompany customers on day trips through our outing service. Having caregiving / nursing certification is considered a prerequisite for both. We also created level 3, which is for people who have knowledge gained from caring for family members but are not actually certified. Level 1, which enables a person to handle preparatory work that includes trip planning and coordination, is also available, but most people are currently interested in level 2 and pre-level 2, so we are not providing level 1 training at the moment.
Around 1200 people have taken our courses so far, and around 700 to 800 of them were certified. Our pre-level 2 course is currently in its 140th term.
Most of our employees are women in their 50s who are more or less done raising their children and work around 100 days per year. Around 70% of our new customers end up becoming repeat customers. Recently, there has also been interest from younger people as well.

Training Travel Helpers who can respond to diverse needs

Our customers have an average age of 82 and an average required nursing care level of 3.5. There are three conditions for using our services: (1) the person must want to travel and it must be possible to confirm this intention, (2) the consent of a family member or equivalent person (someone who understands the daily-life situation of the potential customer) must be obtained, and (3) the permission of the person's attending physician, care manager, or other medical care specialist (someone who understands the daily caregiving situation of the potential customer) must be obtained. If these conditions are satisfied, even people with a required nursing care level of 5 can participate. We never refuse service to anyone due to the severity of their disabilities.
The work that our Travel Helpers must do includes not only accompanying customers on trips but also advance interviews regarding the physical conditions and situations of customers, creating a good service environment in terms of barrier-free accommodations and public transportation, and researching / arranging restrooms and restaurants. Because the situation of each customer differs, it is necessary to devise plans and make adjustments in line with each customer and to make decisions and respond to major environmental changes and irregularities at sites where we provide service. Therefore, in addition to providing them with specialized knowledge, it is extremely important for Travel Helpers to be prepared to think on their feet when on the job. It is important for them to think about what to do on their own without waiting for instructions. Therefore, in order to obtain certification, trainees must undergo training-camp-based practical training in addition to classroom learning.

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