Week 34

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After my fieldwork in Tokyo, I flew to Kagoshima, my mum’s hometown, to conduct my second observation and to stay with my mum throughout the week. I had contacted three nursing homes through my family connections, and the facilities had shown positive attitudes towards taking part in the study.

The staff (managers, nurses and caregivers) showed positive interests in my research and in possibly participating in the research, and they agreed to my presence during activities in the home, but the doctors’ reactions were not as positive. The allied doctors working for the facilities said that they do not verbally interact with their elderly patients except when undertaking tasks. ‘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 interaction is over and the patients hardly speak to doctors either.’ Eventually, all the doctors told me that they do not make a lot of conversation with elderly patients within the facilities and I would not get suitable data, meaning that the prospect of their participation is very low.

I had an opportunity to meet a physician, the director of a large hospital, which was my final chance. He quietly listened to my explanations on the research. He recommended that I see a physician who is interested in the patient-centred concept and communication skills in a clinical context. He immediately phoned the doctor and I made an appointment to see him.

On Friday, I flew back to Tokyo, as I had some appointments. Friday night, I met up with my old teacher and classmates for the first time in four years, which was a really nice reunion. On Sunday afternoon, I visited a physician, and he agreed to participate in my research! Sunday night, I met up with my old friend, Jimmy, for dinner. On Monday (Week 35), I flew to Kagoshima again to see the physician to whom I was introduced and stayed with my mum. 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 medical doctors who are genuinely interested in patient-doctor communication and academic studies on the issues.

Throughout my four-week fieldwork during August, I have met seven doctors and visited six clinics/facilities. I also met up with 18 friends of mine in Tokyo, which were actually the best parts of my stay!

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Week 33

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Week 33 was full of socialising with friends of mine, Asuka, Nanami, Keiko and Fuyuhiko. Luca also came to Japan for the first time in nine months for a holiday. Overall, I spent this whole week talking with my friends and going sightseeing around Tokyo and Nagoya with Luca. For my research, I only completed translating all information forms and did no reading this week.

Whenever I met up with my close friends to have a chat, I feel the best part of a friendship! Since I started living overseas, all of my friends have been more special to me than ever before because we know that we do not live in the same country and we can only see each other once a year. It was great to see them and catch up!

On Tuesday, I picked up Luca at Narita airport. We enjoyed exploring Shinagawa (for Sukiyaki dinner), Shibuya (to meet up with Fuyuhiko), Nagoya (for one-day Shinkansen trip), Harajuku, Ginza (for dinner with my dad) and Tokyo Station (for shopping and Karaoke) over five days! My dad and I took him to a traditional style sushi restaurant, where sushi chefs directly take orders from customers and prepare sushi in front of them. He seemed very satisfied with any kind of sushi and also with most of the Japanese food that he had in Japan (but he really did not like Yakitori). We fully enjoyed our holidays, but at night, I worked on making information sheets for my fieldwork, and he worked on updating his CV to apply for a new position.

On Sunday, he flew back to England, and I flew to Kagoshima to start my second fieldwork for the next five days.

My achievements in Week 33:

  • Completed the translations of all information sheets and consent forms

Goals for Week 34:

  • Visit some locations for my field research
  • Complete descriptions of my thesis structure
  • Finish writing Chapter 3

Week 32

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It’s been very humid and hot in Tokyo. I have been meeting with a lot of people who are relevant to my research every day. Week 32 can be described as ‘walked hard’.

I started conducting my preliminary fieldwork in Tokyo. I visited two facilities, and I was allowed to make observations in seven medical consultations and take notes. In each, a doctor, a nurse, a patient and the patient’s family were there – although I was not allowed to take audio-recordings this time. The doctor introduced me to the patients, and we greeted each other. It was an opportunity for the patients to understand who I am and what I am studying. Eventually, I was able to select some patients who are likely to be eligible and take part in my project. I also had a great opportunity to meet several doctors who are likely to participate in my research.

There is one thing that greatly contradicts my expectation. Initially, I had planned to observe two kinds of healthcare services. One is a doctor’s home visit, and my observations of the home visit have been going well. The other one is nursing homes for elderly people, which turned out to be a very different setting than I expected in terms of the interactions between the older people and the professionals.

Some healthcare professionals gave me advice, telling me that I might need to focus on doctors’ home visits. Home visits from a doctor can be a type of social situation involving multiple people, such as a doctor, a nurse, a patient and the patient’s family members for most of the cases. In addition, doctors who are willing to go for home visits to elderly patients’ houses are highly likely to have an interest in the concept of patient-centeredness. I haven’t reported this aspect to my supervisors yet, but I must do so as soon as possible. I am now organising my fieldnotes from the observations.

My achievements in Week 32:

  • Started networking with healthcare professionals and made observations in seven consultations

Goals for Week 33:

  • Complete the translations of consent forms (for other participants)
  • Attend Luca for Tokyo sightseeing for five days
  • Complete my fieldnotes from the first observations (the notes are still not organised)

Apart from my work, I met up with seven friends of mine! The reunions were great. One of my best friends, Juri, told me that she is opening her new shop soon. This wonderful news made me very happy, excited and motivated for work! Again, I am very happy to have wonderful friends and have gained opportunities to meet great advisors.

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Week 31

I have been translating information sheets and consent forms for my field research into Japanese, which is a very tough job!

On Thursday I flew from England to Japan to conduct my three-week preliminary field research. I will be making observations in Tokyo for the next two weeks, with further observations in a rural region in the third week. I will keep a record of all details of my fieldwork every day!

Soon after I arrived in Tokyo on Friday, I went straight to see a doctor. A rash came out on my arms two weeks ago. Although I had previously visited a walk-in clinic in the UK and got some medication from a nurse, there was no sign of it getting better. The Japanese doctor said that the rash was caused by fatigue and stress, and gave me some tablets and a pack of cream. They worked well, and the rash has gone since I submitted my draft! It might have been due to stress, as the doctor said.

My achievements in Week 31:

  • Sent my draft of Chapter 3 (revised the first half sections) to my supervisors on Saturday
  • Started translating the forms for five participant groups and finished one sheet (out of five)

Goals for Week 32:

  • Complete the translations of all the consent forms
  • Start making my fieldwork notes
  • Maximise fun time with my old friends whom I can see once a year!

I was very lucky. KLM upgraded me to business class.

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