What is the Hans Kai program?
Hans Kai© (“group learning”) is a wellness program, run in a peer supported environment, equiping individuals to take the lead in achieving and maintaining their own optimal health.
Hans Kai© was developed in Japan to help people focus on enhancing their health knowledge, their ability to monitor their own basic health indicators, and their wellness-focused behaviours. By operating in a peer-supported environment Hans Kai© creates or builds on social connections which, according to the World Health Organization, are the primary factor in wellness,. Hans Kai© was brought to Canada by Nor’West Co-op in Winnipeg and Robert Cliche Co-op in Québec. It is available through health co-ops across and beyond Canada that are members of the Health Care Co-op Federation of Canada and, in Québec through the Fédération des coopératives de services à domicile et de santé du Québec, the FCSDSQ.
Hans Kai© Adult program
Ideally the program starts with 8 – 12 people in reasonably good health who already know each other or have some mutual interests. Using the Hans Kai©kit and training materials they complete a Hans Kai© Health School, a series of 8 sessions, 2 hours each:
- introduction and goal setting session
- learning about and how to check health
- indicators (blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, and waist circumference)
- managing sleep and stress
- physical activity plans
- community resources, boundaries and consensus decision making
The eighth meeting is a mock session in which participants practice working as a Hans Kai© group.
After the Hans Kai© Health School series, the group meets monthly using the materials prepared by Nor’West. Groups are self-directed with participants deciding collectively how their group runs. Co-op members are always available to support groups as needed.
Hans Kai© in Winnipeg is a research project measuring both knowledge of and actual changes in physical health, nutrition, physical activity, social supports, mental health, sleep and stress management as a result of attending Hans Kai©. Currently there are workplace and community Hans Kai© groups in Winnipeg, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan with five groups (seniors, workplace, GBLT, youth) scheduled to start in the Victoria area in early 2016.
Every Hans Kai© meeting must include the four core activities: social interaction, monitoring health indicators, healthy snack, physical activity. The details of how this is achieved and what other content is included is adapted to meet the needs of each group, always checking back with NorWest to assure the integrity of the program.
Youth Hans Kai©program
Hans Kai© Youth was created and is being used in several versions to respond to the needs of children and teens. The focus is emotional wellbeing. The aim is to assist the young participants to identify the range of behaviours and emotions that are a normal part of growing up. Based on this the participants can be pro-active in remaining in this “safe zone” and be aware when they or others are heading into areas that could be dangerous. Further, they know how to obtain help. All of this is supported by adults, also equiped by the program with an understanding and tools to identify danger signs and obtain help. The program is not designed to treat mental illness but to either deflect it or find professional help.
As with all Hans Kai©, the youth version is most effective when provided to groups of young people who already come together and can integrate it into their activities on a regular basis. After-school groups, sports teams, church youth groups, school wellness programs, parent-child groups are all appropriate. Local legal requirements for appropriate supervision must be met. This may be through the involvement of parents, teachers, counsellors etc.
Hans Kai© Youth group topics include: Teen reproductive health; Communications and relationships; Eating for health; Let’s get active; Working together; Mental health and bullying; Drugs, alcohol and smoking; and Self Acceptance.
Currently there are Hans Kai© Youth groups in Winnipeg, Québec, Ontario, Saskachewan and Japan. Co-op members are always available to support the group as needed. Hans Kai© Youth includes an evaluation component. The youth in the teen groups currently use photo-voice to showcase what they have gained out of Hans Kai© Youth. Also, after each session they provide written feedback about what they learned, what they liked and what could be improved. Hans Kai© Youth has been adopted by the Winnipeg School Board as part of its regular curriculum.
Although most Hans Kai groups require health professionals only occasionally, the sessions during which an MD meets independently with each participant, can be recorded and billed as a Group Visit under the government’s health insurance program in all Canadian provinces.
In Victoria, materials are being adapted to meet BC Ministry of Health guidelines, and to serve transgender and senior lesbian groups and the program is co-ordinated by the Victoria Health Co-op. firstname.lastname@example.org 250.415.9272
Hans Kai© training will be provided in conjunction with the HCCFC Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg, Dec 7 – 9 2015.
Videos are available at
Health Co-ops in Québec are organized within the
Fédération des coopératives de services à domicile et de santé du Québec, the FCSDSQ.
In Québec the Hans Kai program is available through members of the FCSDSQ.
The Health Care Co-op Federation of Canada, HCCFC, is a member of
Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and is represented on the International Health Co-op Organization.