A letter to the Guardian newspaper makes the rest of us jealous about the great system for dementia care in France:
I am thankful for moving to France 17 years ago.
Four years ago my wife started to lose her memory. Within four weeks she had seen a specialist and a psychologist, and had been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. She was put on to medication at once and her progress was followed by our family doctor and the specialist.
A year ago she had reached a point where she was unable to wash and dress herself and she was assigned the aides-soignant [health aid]. At about 8.30 am the aide arrives, takes her into the bathroom, toilets and showers her, with hair washed and dried too if necessary, then dresses her.
At the same time, the service of an aide for persons who have problems living at home came in. My wife was assessed, then help decided on.
Now, each month I receive a book of cheques which I can use to pay for a carer to spend time with her. The cheques cover three hours a week and I pay for an extra one, so that she has two two-hour sessions per week.
She has now been accepted for the local day centre. This means she will be in a group of similar people, maximum size 15 and with five specially trained nurses, and will spend the whole day being worked with and cared for.
Also she is collected by taxi each morning and returned the same way in the evening. I do have to pay for this service – €55 [$75] a day. We have started with one day a week, but I have the option to increase it to two days a week which I will certainly do.
It is obvious that France is a long way ahead of the UK – largely thanks to that much-reviled former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who had the foresight to realise this was something that would grow and that the country needed to be ready for it. When will the UK catch up?
Molitg les Bains, France
Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd. 2014