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Ages et Vie: Personalised care and a richer social life for the elderly in rural France

Learning Points

So far, only the mayors of small villages have been supportive in endorsing the concept of Ages&Vie. Decision-makers at the higher district level have tended to perceive Ages&Vie homes as competition, given that they are responsible for the provision of traditional institutionalised care homes. At regional level, there is also little interest in new approaches for improving the well-being of elderly people, given that French regions have few responsibilities for social care. Due to the weak engagement of local levels of government, the Ages&Vie concept has not found major resonance within the French state.

Given that French administrative culture is still not very managerialist, no public agency has commissioned an external evaluation of the Ages&Vie projects so far. However, the annual satisfaction surveys of the residents in Ages&Vie  homes demonstrate its success as a concept, and this has also found a very positive echo in the press.

The benefits of a housing concept which allows elderly residents to maintain a maximum of autonomy, supported by personalised care from professionals, while being integrated in the local community are evident. The inter-generational benefits of the Ages&Vie projects have been strengthened in a number of villages such as Montfaucon, where two new Ages&Vie houses were built close to the local school.

The key lesson to be learnt from the Ages&Vie projects in the East of France is that it is not sufficient to improve the services offered to the elderly but rather to focus on improving the overall quality of life of the elderly. This means rethinking how generations live together. According to Nicolas Perrette and Simon Vouillot (2004), it is also necessary to strengthen volunteering in France and to think of wider changes in the way the public sector works in France.  The Ages&Vie projects show that small-scale local authorities cannot bring about these changes by themselves but need to work in partnership with other public agencies, the private and third sectors as well as local communities.


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Laurine Artus

Marcel Guenoun

Laurine Artus and Marcel Guenoun, our Associates in France, wrote this case study for Governance International on 12 March 2012.

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