Japanese Han Groups

Small health groups with professional support.

Japanese older lady with cat
  • Involves: larger co-ops, individual members, health professionals
  • Context: A national insurance system funds health and nursing services in Japan. Co-operatives run hospitals, dental practices, centres for primary health care and nursing homes.
  • Cost: ?

A Han-group is a basic unit of health and welfare co-ops, helping people be and stay well. It is made up of three or more members. Mutual, peer-to-peer support is complemented by that of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers. These professionals are collaborative partners in a community-led model of integrated health and home care services. Trained volunteers also play a role.

How does it work?

  • Han-group members check their blood pressure, urine and body fat with help from professionals
  • Members learn about different conditions (cancer, diabetes, stroke, dementia) and risk factors (stress, diet, drinking, smoking)
  • Goals are set to adopt eight healthy habits (lifestyle, stress, diet, exercise) and measure two health indicators (body fat, blood pressure)
  • Some groups engage in activities such as exercise and communal meals
  • Trained members provide health checks for local people in public places and events
  • Involving volunteers can assist in bringing unpaid carers into paid professional work
  • A charter sets out that service users and staff as service providers think and act together


million members, 111 health & welfare co-ops

Japanese person in wheelchair with carer

The views on health to which we give the greatest importance, are to change ourselves, to reach out to society and to cooperate with other people in order to enjoy a happy and active life and have a better tomorrow. On the basis of these values and views on health, we conduct our business and activities of health/nursing care and health promotion in order to promote better health in community as a whole.

HeW CO-OP JAPAN, national federation of health and welfare co-operatives

The Basic Philosophy of Health and Welfare Co-ops