A multi-disciplinary seminar, “The Ageing Care Crisis – Is there a role for robotics-based solutions”, was held in UCD on 17th November 2016. The seminar, organised by Dr Naonori Kodate of UCD with participation from a delegation of researchers from Chiba University, addressed one of the most important issues facing Japan, Ireland and many developing countries, that of the rapidly ageing global population and the challenges this represents for effective healthcare.

The seminar was organised through the ISCA Japan programme, which has been strengthening Ireland – Japan research relationships since March 2014. The themes of Future Healthcare and Connected Health have been a key focus of the ISCA Japan programme, being recognised as both significant issues and areas of strength in R&D for Ireland and Japan.

Ambassador of Japan to Ireland, Her Excellency Ms Mari Miyoshi, attended the seminar, giving a welcoming address. Ambassador Miyoshi spoke about how Japan has long been a leader in robotics technology, highlighting it as an area which is strengthening Japan’s economy. Ambassador Miyoshi also mentioned the upcoming 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Ireland in 2017, focusing on the opportunity for collaboration in areas such as this.

The delegation from Chiba University was led by Prof Wenwei Yu, Professor at the School of Engineering and Vice Director of the Centre for Frontier Medical Engineering. He was joined by a group of experienced researchers from diverse backgrounds : Prof Sayuri Suwa, Professor in Visiting Nursing; Prof Mayuko Tsujimura, Associate Professor in the Dept of Life Innovation Nursing, Prof Mina Ishimaru, Associate Professor in the Dept of Life Innovation Nursing and Prof Hiroo Ide, Associate Professor in Health Policy, Chiba University Hospital.

Before introducing his research in robotics, Prof Yu gave an outline of the ageing epidemic and healthcare of the elderly in Japan. Speaking about ageing, he said: “We should emphasise that it is not an ‘ageing crisis’. Longevity should be a cause for celebration. It is providing effective healthcare and maximising independent functioning and participation of elderly people that is the challenge, thus the title ‘The ageing care crisis'”. Prof Yu and Prof Suwa spoke about the research being done at Chiba University and their hopes for the future.

In addition to the seminar, the delegation from Chiba University also attended the start of a UCD – Chiba University working group, individual meetings with leading Irish researchers, and interviews with healthcare professionals. A Memorandum of Understanding between UCD and Chiba University was signed to mark the occasion, setting out a will to collaborate further.

L - R: Dr Triona McCormack, Director of Research UCD; Prof Mark Rogers, Registrar UCD, Ambassador of Japan Ms Mari Miyoshi, Prof Wenwei Yu, Chiba University; Prof Sayuri Suwa, Chiba University

Signing an MOU between UCD and Chiba University: L – R, Dr Triona McCormack, Director of Research UCD; Prof Mark Rogers, Registrar UCD, Ambassador of Japan to Ireland, Her Excellency Ms Mari Miyoshi, Prof Wenwei Yu, Chiba University; Prof Sayuri Suwa, Chiba University

The seminar and visit were organised by Dr Naonori Kodate, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice.

http://www.ucd.ie/geary/aboutus/people/naonorikodate/

https://www.ucd.ie/socialpolicyworkjustice/

The organisers and ISCA Japan consortium would like to thank the Embassy of Japan in Ireland for their continued support.