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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Communication between staff and residents in a Japanese nursing home for the elderly

One by-product of Japan’s recent demographic developments is a constantly growing number of elderly people in need of care. This project focuses on the communicative properties of care for the elderly in institutional contexts by examining linguistic interaction between staff and residents in a Japanese nursing home. The major questions to be addressed are as follows:

  • What are the general characteristics of communication between residents and caring staff?
  • What linguistic strategies are applied in order to reconcile institutional goals with personal needs?
  • What differences and similarities can be observed in cross-cultural comparison?
  • How could “care communication” be improved?

I work with a sample of ca. 110 resident-staff conversations recorded during the morning care activities in a caring facility north of Tokyo. Analytical categories focus on both quantitative and qualitative issues, including terms of address, use of honorifics and variation between formal and plain speech styles, off-topic management, organization of conversational openings and closings, and occurrence of joking and laughter, among others.

Staff

Previous Staff

Peter Backhaus Peter Backhaus
(Linguistics)

Related Research Projects or Programs

Challenges of Demographic Change

Selected Publications

Editorship

2011
[Backhaus, Peter] Communication in Elderly Care. Cross-Cultural Perspectives. DIJ Publications. London, New York: Continuum Int. Publishing Group. 226 p.

Articles

2011
[Lützeler, Ralph; Coulmas, Florian] The Power of Address: Age and Gender in Japanese Eldercare Communication
In: Lützeler, Ralph; Coulmas, Florian (Ed.) Imploding Populations in Japan and Germany. DIJ Publications. Brill. pp. 361-372.
2010
Time to get up: Compliance-gaining in a Japanese eldercare facility
In: Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 20 (1). pp. 69-89.
2009
Politeness in institutional elderly care in Japan: A cross-cultural comparison
In: Journal of Politeness Research 5. pp. 54-71.

Working Papers (Book)

2006
[Backhaus, Peter] Care, control, and communication: Linguistic interaction between staff and residents in a Japanese nursing home for the elderly . Working Papers | Reports. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien. 24 p.

Events

October 1, 2009
Symposia and Conferences
Communication in Institutional Elderly Care: Cross-cultural Perspectives

April 25, 2009
Workshops
「医療・介護の現場におけるコミュニケーション―『福祉言語学』の視点に立って―」(Communication in Japanese Healthcare Contexts: From the Perspective of Welfare Linguistics)