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France launches national strategy for informal carers

Wednesday 23 October 2019

On 23 October, a new national strategy for informal carers was unveiled. France Alzheimer attended launch and has said that, while this is a step forward, it will remain vigilant on specific points. Here is France Alzheimer’s report on this new carers’ strategy: There are between 8 and 11 million informal carers in France today and this number keeps increasing, mainly due to the ageing of the population. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn and Secretary of State for Disabled People Sophie Cluzel, presented an experimental national plan to support informal carers in their daily commitment. This strategy will be tested for the next 2 years and focuses on 6 priorities, with a EUR 400 million budget. France Alzheimer attended the presentation, which took place near Paris, and Martine Bou, President of one of the local branches of the Association, took the floor to describe her life as carer of her own mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. With this plan, the French government wants to overcome the isolation of millions of carers and support them by providing new social rights and facilitating administrative procedures. The main objectives are to enable carers to balance their working and family lives, to increase and diversify respite solutions, to help them take care of their own health and to support younger informal carers.

These priorities will be implemented through 17 concrete measures. France Alzheimer highlights, in particular, doubling the capacity of respite centres by 2022, the identification of carers’ roles in the medical file of people living with dementia (starting in 2020), the implementation of a national telephone helpline, and the promotion of the national education staff’s awareness regarding issues met by younger carers. Another positive development is paid leave for carers who continue working while taking care of a relative, for a maximum period of 3 months during their entire career. This leave, which does not have to be taken in one shot, will soon be paid at a rate of between EUR 43 and EUR 52 a day (depending on the household’s composition), will apply to employees, independents, civil servants and unemployed people.

Benoit Durand, CEO of France Alzheimer, said: “This new plan is to be welcomed but we must remain vigilant on several points, such as the paid leave. Indeed, this measure must benefit all carers. Today, access to this right is too restrictive and too limited, according to the national compensation system”. He also mentions the period of leave: “3 months is a start but it will have to be extended for carers of people living with dementia. Moreover, we are concerned about another point. Will this new mechanism apply to all the carers of a same person? To all siblings for example?”

Also concerned by the increasing residual charges at the expense of French families, France Alzheimer advocates for the deployment of innovative interventions such as “baluchonnage”, a Canadian initiative to respond to the respite needs of carers. The outlines of this new strategy should be known by the beginning of next year and then included in the general reform on ageing and autonomy the French government is currently working on.