Advanced Age Reform Could Be Decisive in Upcoming French Elections

Since 2017, successive announcements have been made for an upcoming reform of the “Advanced Age and Autonomy Act”. Prior to his election as French President, this reform was part of Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promises. The issuing of additional sanitary restrictions for the pandemic has exacerbated this worrisome issue concerning the loss of autonomy for the elderly, whether they are at home or in nursing homes.

Once again, in June, the Directorate-General for Social Cohesion (“DGCS”) organized meetings with the representatives of federations on ageing to discuss three courses of action: the growth and development of “EHPAD’s” (nursing home establishments for aged and dependent individuals), home care services, and the fundamental rights for safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Ideas for reforming the rights of vulnerable adults

On June 14, the group focused on the issue of safeguarding vulnerable adults and their fundamental rights. The “DGCS” has underlined that defending these rights is part of the policy for autonomy since it “is a question of allowing each individual to be able exercise his rights, to carry out his projects and to take an active part in social life”.

Proposed courses of action include:

  • reaffirming and emphasizing the fundamental rights of assisted individuals (systematically verifying their informed consent, their visitation rights);
  • incorporating a clause against maltreatment in the Code for Social Action and Families
  • formalizing prevention policies to fight against maltreatment in the projects for nursing homes and service providers; setting aside time for professionals to reflect on a code of ethics and professional conduct;
  • clarifying the professional role for the legal representatives for the protection of adults and reforming their training procedures;
  • instituting requirements for the mandatory judicial representatives for the protection of adults (“MJPM”) to file reports with the administrative and court authorities;
  • enact tougher requirements specifying that prices for accommodation be clearly spelled out in “EHPAD’s” and in assisted living residences…

These issues, i.e. improving “Ehpad’s”, home care assistance, and safeguarding the fundamental rights of vulnerable adults, appear to be considered by several specialists as the foundation for a bill that could be tabled in July, followed by a parliamentary discussion in autumn.

Furthermore, an IFOP survey from May 19 – 25, 2021, commissioned by “Synerpa” (National Union of Establishments & Private Residences and Assisted Living Services for the Elderly) has revealed that:

  • 74% of the French believe that the issue of supporting elders in their advanced age is not sufficiently taken into consideration by political candidates (for regional, presidential, and legislative elections)
  • 60% of the French believe that the government should implement the Advanced Age and Autonomy Act without delay (i.e., in September 2021).

In view of the upcoming presidential election in 2022, the French have underlined two priorities that candidates should address for the future:

  • 59% want candidates to promote and develop home care and assisted living services for the elderly;
  • 48% are in favor of government financial aid to help defray expenses for nursing home accommodation, based on one’s resources.

These results concur with the Libault report entitled “Advanced age, time to act” (“Grand âge, le temps d’agir”) carried out between October 2018 and January 2019 which polled 414,000 French citizens.

Will future electoral candidates take these hopes and expectations of French citizens under serious consideration?  Will they face up to the demographic reality of the increasing number of dependent elderly people and the incumbent need to change the way society treats old age?

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