Since its inception in 2014, La Maison des Sages has offered an innovative alternative to shared housing for people with Alzheimer’s disease, in the form of small-scale co-habiting arrangements.
Alexandre Schmitt knows first-hand the impact Alzheimer’s disease can have. He experienced this terrible illness, which affects 900,000 people in France, within his family. Moreover, as a clinical psychologist, he created and spent 12 years running a training organisation dedicated to the disease. « When Alzheimer’s develops, the sufferer loses independence and family caregivers become exhausted. Everyone would prefer to remain in their own home, but the cost of 24-hour home help can reach €10,000 per month. Nursing homes are still often the only solution, » says Alexandre Schmitt.
An innovative system
Since 2014, Alexandre and his business partner, Christine Odinot, have been working on the Maison des Sages project to provide an alternative.
« We offer a co-habitation solution for eight people in a house in the centre of town where everyone pays their rent and has their own room. Staff costs are shared and housemates benefit from much more personalised support than they would in a nursing home. Plus they can spend time together in the house’s communal rooms, » explains Schmitt.
This innovative system is already widely implemented in Germany, as well as in the Morbihan department of Brittany : « I visited a house in Brittany. At mealtimes all the housemates ate with their care-givers and children in a warm, family atmosphere. Everyone helped serve the food, just like a family. This forward-thinking concept does not exist in Île-de-France, which has 150,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease » adds Odinot
A partnership approach
This is why Alexandre and his partner created an ESUS limited liability company and an endowment fund for the establishment of the first ten home-shares in the Île-de-France region.
The project also brings on board several partner organisations. « Property company Caritas Habitat, which buys housing to rent to solidarity organisations, is about to acquire a town-centre home in Buc, in Les Yvelines. The Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation is co-financing project leader salaries and a feasibility study alongside France Active, which is taking part under the auspices of the Fonds de Confiance programme« , explains Alexandre Schmitt.
In this context, an endowment of €20,000 covers Christine Odinot’s salary during the study period.
« The social benefits of this project are undeniable. It is being run by a highly competent team which, with our support, have every chance of success. With the creation of the equivalent of seven full-time positions per household, the potential for regional and national development is very promising, » explains Jean-Noël Reverchon, Project Manager, France Active Yvelines.
» Our concept is based on a partnership that combines philanthropy, solidarity investment, social entrepreneurship and individual responsibility » , confirms Alexandre Schmitt. He adds: » The role of families is crucial, as is that of volunteers providing recreational activities for patients » . If the Buc property purchase goes through, the first Maison des Sages should open and welcome housemates in June 2019.
Were supported by
France Active Yvelines
With the support of