A1: While medical progress is saving the lives of many children, we also see an increasing number of children who require medical care throughout their lives. When their condition is stabilized after initial treatment for the acute phase, they are released from the hospital to their own home.
The best and most comfortable environment for them to grow up and develop is with their family in their own home. These children, however, require full-time and long-term medical care at home. Momiji House is for children who require medical care at home and their families. In many cases, the conditions of these children are such that they require the aid of equipment such as feeding tubes, oxygen inhalers or respirators. For most children, it’s no big deal to take a bath, play with friends or go to the park. However, these are extremely difficult activities for some children. They have no choice but to be confined inside their home. Momiji House will be these children’s second home. It’s where they can have an enjoyable life and receive medical care at the same time.
A2: Yes, it is. Short-term residential facilities for children already exist. But they are more of a respite facility for families who need a break from their daily routine and responsibilities. Contrary to this, the objective of Momiji House is to provide a haven where both children and their families can enjoy a safe and pleasant life together. Sometimes, Momiji House is introduced as a ‘hospice for children’. In Japan ‘hospice’ implies a place where palliative care is provided for those who do not have much time left to live. Momiji House is not a hospice in that sense. The idea for this house is taken from Helen & Douglas House in England. Helen & Douglas House was the world’s first hospice for children. It’s a facility where children can spend the last precious days of their life. It is also where children with severe illness and disabilities can live happily together with their families.
A3: The objectives of the NCCHD are medical research and treatment programs aimed at building healthy future generations. The NCCHD has been playing a central role in promoting advanced and specialized medicine in the area of child and prenatal medical care in Japan. The effectiveness of such high-level medical care alone, however, has been questioned and this has led to discussions about the necessity for support for children receiving medical care at home and their families. Mrs.
Masayo Kidani came into contact with the NCCHD a few years ago. She had been a volunteer at Helen & Douglas House and had been looking for a partner to build a similar facility in Japan for a long time. At the same time, the NCCHD was trying to find a viable approach to home medical care. Momiji House came into being as a result of the convergence of Mrs. Kidani’s passion and the solution that the NCCHD arrived at. It is very important to provide support for children with severe illness and their families. Momiji House, therefore, makes perfect sense from the point of view of the NCCHD. We hope more and more people will become aware of the importance of facilities like Momiji House as well as the services it provides and, with their help, we hope to see an increase in the number of similar facilities.
A4: This project is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Mrs. Masayo Kidani (through the Kidani Memorial Trust), who initially had the idea to build such a facility in Japan, and the Nippon Foundation which supported the merit of the project from the beginning, as well as a number of private companies, organizations, and individuals who understood the importance of facilities of this kind.
A5: Through the foyer is a bright glassed-in living-dining area where residents can cook together or hold a party if they wish. There are two types of rooms: five private rooms and two rooms each of which is to be shared by three children. There are also rooms for families to stay in as well as a room which has an area with tatami floor.
Two bathrooms are available. One is a little bigger than standard size; the other is adapted to accommodate residents with physical disabilities. The second floor has a play area big enough to hold mini concerts. The floor of one half of the play area is heated so that the children can sit or lie around to draw pictures, read books or play games. The balcony is a perfect spot for viewing cherry blossoms in the spring and the moon in the fall. In addition, it has a sensory room for relaxation. In this room, you will be pleasantly stimulated by the special equipment emitting light / sound, aroma and tactile sensations. There is also a music room for playing musical instruments and singing and even a study room.
A6: We will try to accommodate and support users’ wishes with regard to how they would like their life to be at our facility or what they would like to do there. For example, they may wish to bake bread or cookies. Or they may want to play with friends bouncing a large ball. Or they may want to just relax free of worldly thoughts. We will listen to what children like to do or things they couldn’t do if they lived in their own home.
Based on what we learn, we, together with the residents, will design and support their life style at Momiji House. It is our wish that activities at Momiji House ― be they play, learning, or rehabilitation ― will help children feel good and relax, and ultimately lead to their further growth and development. Our staff is composed of nurses, child-care workers, certified care workers, rehabilitation professionals, volunteers, and many others. They work hand-in-hand with children and families to provide a caring and comfortable environment where users can lead a safe and enjoyable life.
A7: It’s named after the charitable organization ‘Momiji’ that Mrs. Masayo Kidani represents. Momiji has a program called ‘Momiji Project’ which promotes Japanese-British bilateral relations. It was started from Mrs. Kidani’s strong desire to build a bridge to connect Britain, where Mrs. Kidani resides, and Japan, her home country. Since its inaugural exchange program in 1991, when 50 Japanese youth including some with disabilities were invited to England, there have been seven more bilateral exchange programs so far. Particularly of note, children from Helen & Douglas House were invited to Japan in 2005 and 2009 and these visits added momentum to establishing Momiji House at the NCCHD.
A8: We need to provide training for more carers. We are not talking about medicine-centered care as currently practiced in hospitals and conventional facilities. We need human resources capable of providing care to enable the residents to live in the way they wish. Fostering such human resources is most important. Our objective is to fill the huge gap that the current medical and welfare system are not able to. Needless to say, to achieve our goals both in the development of human resources and maintenance of the facilities, we also require significant financial support.
A9: Please spread the word about Momiji House and its facilities and please contact us if you can help or have expertise to offer. We, the entire staff at Momiji House, will work diligently to achieve our goal to make Momiji House a place you will wish to keep visiting; to convince you that Momiji House is an indispensable facility; and that you can proudly publicize our activities. We are counting on your understanding and support.