Foster care, an alternative to retirement homes and institutes

the essential
When the elderly are no longer independent enough to live at home, they can choose to live with a host family. An alternative solution to retirement homes and nursing homes. In the department, only 75 people opted for this formula. And 39 adults with disabilities, to whom the system is also open.

Around 6:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m., Jérôme Maurice wakes up. He lives in Labastide-Saint-Pierre and has been a welcoming family since 2018. No time to lose, from 7 a.m., breakfast must be ready for his three “welcome”. Until 8 o’clock, sometimes even more, the nurses come to do the toilets. Afterwards, Jérôme takes care of the cleaning of the rooms and the bathrooms.

Sometimes he has a little time to do an activity, otherwise he has to start preparing lunch. Around 12 noon, the table is set, and it’s already time to sit down to eat. If one of its residents is autonomous, for another it is necessary to give him to eat. The third, is bedridden, at the end of life, and no longer feeds except through infusions. A difficult situation but that Jérôme and his wife Emmanuelle accepted so as not to add stress to him. “It’s a scary situation for her and we want to help her as best we can,” says Emmanuelle.

A rigorous organization

Once lunch is over, Madeleine and Amélie watch the news and then take a nap. In the afternoon, depending on the weather, Jérôme tries to go out in the garden and make them do activities or games. But this is difficult because of their age: 87 and 98 years old. “Madeleine gets tired very quickly,” he says. After the snack, the nurses are back. Then it’s time again to take care of dinner, then bedtime. In the meantime, he will take the time to have dinner with his family and around 10 p.m., after television time, he will put his boarders to bed. Precise and regular timing, which he repeats 6 days out of 7. One day a week, in fact, his wife Emmanuelle replaces him. To allow him to breathe a little. An organization that not all hosts can put in place. Some must therefore take care of their residents every day, without exception.

“It’s an organization to find, concedes Jérôme”, aware that this has an impact on his family life. But this was anticipated by the couple who had also surveyed their three children before starting. “We had also gone to see another host family to be sure that it suited us,” says the couple. For Madeleine in any case, 98 years old, this organization suits her well. “We eat very well and we are well pampered,” she says. I could no longer stay at home because I kept falling, regrets the Montalbanaise. They are very considerate, it’s safer for me, ”she summarizes.

Accompany them in their end of life

At Christine Nouvel, in Nègrepelisse, the pace is also sustained. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week, “you have to be organized,” she sums up. Just like Jérôme, this former caregiver also has approval for 3 tenants. But it only accommodates two. One of its residents recently died. “She hadn’t eaten for three weeks. She had had enough, she had decided to die, she let herself go. With the covid, she saw her family less, it played on her morale, ”she regrets. She had been with us for 4 years, she continues, it’s hard to see them leave because we create links. But I accompanied her until the end, as best as possible, ”consoles the fifty-year-old. Because the life of welcoming families for the elderly is also that: accompanying them until the end.
“We have the choice to keep them or to place them in the hospital, it depends on the situation, she explains while continuing to work.
It’s snack time. A tea and a brioche for his protégés. Denise is in front of the TV but Hubert is still taking a nap. “His family came to see him, but he went to bed a bit because he was tired, he shouldn’t be long,” she says.
A few minutes later, in fact, 97-year-old Hubert slowly arrives with his walker. “I’ve been with Christine for two years, it’s going very well,” he says. She is very nice and we lack for nothing, ”he testifies, receiving his snack.
Soon a new resident should take part in the life of the household. “I had contact with a person but for the moment nothing precise. Before we come to an agreement, the person has to come and see the house, we have to meet, to be sure that everything is going well afterwards,” she explains. Once the agreement has been made, a contract, known as mutual agreement, will be signed between the two parties. It stipulates, among other things, the obligations of the host and the host and the financial conditions of the host.

Contracts that vary from one host to another

Pascale Best campaigns to revalue the activity of welcoming family. / DDM, Manu Massip

President of AAF82 (Association of family carers of Tarn-et-Garonne), Pascale Best is of course herself a foster family. Since 2009, the 50-year-old has made the choice to take care of people with disabilities. Because so few people request it, this device is also open to them.
The role of the association is to come to the aid of other host families in particular to support them in all administrative tasks: establishment of the contract, pay slips, etc.
She is also often the first contact for families looking for a home for their loved one. Today, about thirty host families are members of this association out of the 75 in the department.
For almost 13 years that she has been practicing this activity, Pascale Best has taken a critical look at her “profession”. A profession which, as she points out, is not considered as such. “We have voluntary contracts with the people we welcome or the tutors or curators. It is an activity that is not considered as work, we do not have an employment contract, ”she underlines.

Better assess the autonomy of people with disabilities

Concretely, this translates into paid leave, which certainly exists, but is difficult to take in reality. “When we want to take a vacation, it’s up to us to find a replacement…” What about sick leave? “You must not be sick or have an accident at work because there it is 0”, she replies.
As for the remuneration, this of course depends on the income of the people received and very often also on the aid to which they are entitled (APA, personalized autonomy allowance, or ASH, social assistance for accommodation, for example). These aids vary according to the department. A family carer does not therefore necessarily earn the same income as another since the contracts are defined with each carer.
“In the Tarn-et-Garonne, we are well off, she testifies, but it could be better. Especially for host families of disabled people. The evaluation of their autonomy is only based on certain points: do they know how to wash, eat, dress themselves? But when they dress in shorts in the middle of winter, can we really say that they are autonomous? she asks ironically.
“What is needed is a real national legal status so that foster care is considered a real job and that our activity is revalued. This would allow us to be all housed in the same boat, ”claims Pascale Best.

118 people in host families

“Family foster care for a fee in a private home constitutes a mode of care between accommodation in an establishment and home care, stipulates the Departmental Council. This form of care is aimed at elderly people and adults with disabilities. Individuals or couples wishing to carry out this activity must have an authorization issued by the President of the Departmental Council. For each person welcomed, a reception contract must be concluded and must include a personalized reception project with regard to the needs of the person welcomed.
As of December 31, 2021, there were 75 approved family carers in the Department, including 69 for individuals and 6 couple approvals for 170 reception places. On the same date, 118 people were welcomed, including 75 elderly people and 39 adults with disabilities. »

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