Hans Kai™ (“group learning”) is a participant led, peer-supported wellness program that was developed in Japan and has been operating for over 50 years to help people focus on enhancing their health knowledge, their ability to monitor their own basic health indicators, and their wellness-focused behaviours.
Ideally Adult Hans Kai™ starts with 5 – 40 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 9 to 12 sessions, 2 hours each. The participants then meet regularly according to a schedule they decide, whether weekly, monthly or other. Each meeting includes four key elements: a social/learning activity, a wellness review, nutrition and a physical activity.
The details of the Hans Kai™ Health School and the on-going sessions depend on the age of the participants, their capacity for various activities and their interests. Typically the Health School includes:
- Introduction to Hans Kai™ – goal setting session, learning about basic health indicators
- More about health indicators (blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, and waist circumference)
- Health Indicators: how participants safely and effectively monitor their own blood glucose, blood pressure and waist circumference.
- Healthy Eating: nutrition, healthy eating and food safety.
- Being Active: types and benefits of exercise; developing physical activity plans for all abilities
- Achieving Balance: signs and symptoms of stress and how to manage stress; the importance of sleep, resources to support good sleep patterns.
- Primary Health and Medical Care through the Years: general overview of health checks through the years, medications, introduction to smoking cessation
- Working Together: community resources, boundaries, consensus decision making, working as a group.
- Launch Hans Kai™ group; identify group resources and strengths, practice working together as a Hans Kai™
After the Hans Kai™ Health School series, most groups meet monthly (or more often if they wish) for a minimum of 2 hours. Some groups meet for 30 minutes once a week. Participants commit to being in the program for at least a year. In many cases, the members continue to meet far beyond their initial commitment of one year, enjoying the social support and wellness benefits.
Every Adult Hans Kai™ meeting must include the four core activities: social interaction, monitoring health indicators, a healthy snack and physical activity. The details of how this is achieved and additional content are adapted to meet the needs of each group, always checking back with the Victoria Health Co-op, Nor’West Co-op or Robert Cliche Co-op to assure the integrity of the program. Groups are self-directed with participants deciding collectively how their group runs. All decisions are made collectively by the group. Responsibilities are based on group consensus. Health professionals are always available to support the group as needed. Groups can arrange presenters to talk about recreational activities, health topics or others based on group interest. Nor’West Co-op and the Victoria Health Co-op are always available to provide support.
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, Saskatchewan and several locations on Vancouver Island.
Although most adult Hans Kai™ groups require health professionals only occasionally, the sessions during which a health professional 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 the programs are co-ordinated by the Victoria Health Co-op firstname.lastname@example.org and supported by the Creating Community Wellness Society 250.415.9272 Materials have been adapted to meet BC Ministry of Health guidelines, and to serve transgender, senior lesbian, seniors, work-place and church groups.
How is adult Hans Kai™ different from other Health Promotion Groups?
Hans Kai™ is participant led. Every group member has a say in how the group is run.
Hans Kai™ members meet on their own, independent of health providers once the health school sessions are complete. Health Co-ops Canada trainers are available for support as needed and check in at regular intervals.
Hans Kai™ incorporates activity, nutrition, physical and emotional health all in one group.
Hans Kai™ is sustainable as it does not rely on medical professionals to continue the group.