I had contacted three care homes through my personal connections. The managers, nurses and caregivers showed positive interest in my research. They agreed to my presence during activities in the care homes.
The allied doctors working for the facilities told me that they do not verbally interact with their patients except when undertaking tasks. A doctor said to me, “At elderly care homes, the condition of most of the patients is constantly checked, and it is very normal not to make conversation with the patients. Just a few sentences are spoken, like ‘hello. how are you today?’ When the patient replies ‘I am fine’, the conversation is over, and the patients hardly speak to doctors either.”
I had an opportunity to meet a physician, the director of a hospital. He quietly listened to my explanations on the research and then recommended that I see a physician who is interested in the patient-centred concept and communication skills in clinical settings. He immediately phoned the doctor and I made an appointment to see him.
On Friday, I flew back to Tokyo. Friday night, I met up with my old classmates for the first time in four years, which was a nice reunion.
On Monday, I flew to Kagoshima again to see the physician to whom I was introduced. His reaction towards my research was very positive and he told me that he would be willing to help. I felt greatly relieved and thought that there are certainly some doctors who are genuinely interested in patient-doctor communication and studies on the topics.
Throughout my preliminary fieldwork, I have met seven doctors and visited six facilities.
I also met up with 18 friends of mine, which were the best parts of my stay!