In this Ehpad like no other, the human has not retreated

When the doors of the Haitian Gardens open, Cat Stevens can sing “Oh baby baby it’s a wild world“- in French,” It’s a wild world “-, we are here far from the jungle described in Vincent Castanet’s investigative book, The gravediggerson the excesses of the Orpea group, world leader in private for-profit nursing homes.

Here is a “home to live”, an associative Ehpad in a popular district of Marseille. We circulate from the entrance, to the living room, passing through the restaurant without going through the slightest door. The space feels more like one of those trendy places with a Scandinavian, modern and refined decor, where you play table football while others work sitting on cushions, than a retirement home. But the curious faces that turn to visitors aren’t the ones you’d meet in a coworking space. These are wrinkled, sport toothless smiles and are topped with gray or white hair… when there is any!

Reintroduce human

Laurent Boucraut comes to meet the newcomers. “Can I buy you a coffee?“Dressed in a hooded sweatshirt that, according to the codes, would have more place on the shoulders of a start-up than on that of a director of a nursing home, he leads us not to his office, but to the counter. , he wants to break them, so he pours himself two espresso coffees among the residents. “I want to open more and more doors, he throws. We need to stop closing.

He acquired this certainty with his first imprisonment in the spring of 2020, when residents found themselves cut off from the world. “It is essential to reintroduce the human being“, he begins to explain, as a strange hitch presents itself. Michelle and her friend Henriette -“But everyone tells me Riri“- they approach, each in his wheelchair, one helping the other. They come to see what happens near the bar. It must be said that the two old women are used to being served a little whiskey at lunchtime. ‘aperitif. At 10, the boss’s tour will begin on a bit of Arabica, without sugar for Riri, a diabetic “.That’s 7.5 euros!“, Says the director, mockingly.

Michelle and her friend Riri were offered a coffee by Laurent, the director of Les Jardins d’Haïti. (Photo CD).

If everyone, within the Ehpad, continues, his newfound seriousness, it takes ten minutes every day to put a little more human into relationships, do you realize what changes?

For this, you have to create a habit. For this Laurent turned to Fabien Gaudioso, a trainer specializing in social development.

“In the nursing home of tomorrow there is a nursery!”

But the heart of Les Jardins d’Haïti’s philosophy is its intergenerational project. “In the Ehpad of tomorrow there is a nursery!“, the manager chants like a slogan, while three small children arrive as they would in their grandparents’ living room. Coming as neighbors from the micro-nursery next door, Marlon goes where he knows awaits him. a bicycle, Melia and Lina take a seat at the piano : evidently they have their signs. The day before they had a carnival with the residents, who, far from being afraid of the agitation of the minots as the cliché would like, seem happy to see the three children waving around them “.All these little ones are beautiful“, Huguette is moved. The old lady remembers having had four children herself, she plunges into her memories, while at her side Sarah looks rather to the future:”They remind me of the future!“she says, regretting not having had enough time with her grandchildren.

The children of the Ubi4Kids micro-nursery are used to come and spend time with the inhabitants of the Jardins d’Haïti, delighted by the entertainment offered by the little ones. (Photo CD).

Then, the domino game that started a little earlier among half a dozen residents continues naturally, according to Marlon’s wheelchair bike rides and accompanied by laughter from Melia and Lina, who enjoy rocking.

While the benefits seem evident for the elderly, the impact is also positive for children, Laurent assures. “Show them that this is life too, play down old age.In addition, he noted another beneficial effect: the families of the residents come more often and longer to visit them, even with the younger generations.

A third place in my nursing home

Of course, he wanted to go further. While it is time for Lina, Melia and Marlon to go “home”, the manager explains that he was hoping for it. “the nursery is really installed in the Ehpad or, at least, that there is a common entranceBut the institutions have decided otherwise. Finally, the micro-nursery of the UB4Kids association took place independently in the building. Proof that there is still a long way to go to move the rows.

Fortunately, the call for projects “A third place in my Ehpad” launched by the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy should change the situation. Les Jardins d’Haïti have in fact been selected with twenty-five other nursing homes throughout France – they are the only establishment in the region – to benefit from a grant of almost 120,000 euros and thus strengthen their desire to open up to the outside world.

Fabien Gaudioso (left), the WeAreTheStarters trainer, had an appointment that day for which he made an appointment at Les Jardins d’Haïti. The boy didn’t miss a beat! (Photo CD).

From that moment on, not only will many projects be able to be financed, but above all the legitimacy thus acquired will make it possible to overcome new obstacles. Garden shared with the inhabitants of the neighborhood on a land of 500 square meters pertaining to the structure, apartment for two students who, in exchange, will give a few hours of their time to the residents or even the installation of a pizza oven for sharing evenings. part of the daily life of the inhabitants of the Jardins d’Haïti …

Actions to change prejudices

We have already opened the restaurant for those who want to have lunch there, especially on Mondays, the day of chef Renaud Guez’s signature menu“, recalls Laurent. Sitting a few meters from the counter where the coffee break ends, the presence of Fabien Gaudioso, the trainer, in the middle of a professional meeting, also emphasizes that the retirement home can serve as a workspace .. . And no matter the colorful comings and goings of Guy, the idol of these ladies and especially of “his wife”, Marie-France. Riding his unlikely “tuned” Harley Davidson-style walker, the old man rolls the mechanics, plays the horn.Go Oh!“, he laughs, dressed in his Marseille club scarf, matched with that of Marie-France.”One day we put a first decoration on his walker, then it became a game“, Recalls the director.

Guy, at the handlebars of his custom Harley Davidson-style walker, and Marie-France, “his wife”, are the mascots of this “home to live in”. (Photo CD).

There is no doubt, however, that the Ehpad and its residents are turning into a circus. “The idea is not to do to make or highlight our establishment, Laurent insists. What we do, we do it in a thoughtful way to revolutionize the world of old age, so that the image of nursing homes and the profession evolves. “

Because, anyway, this is a home for non self-sufficient elderly people: here too there is the room where some of the residents nod their heads in front of the TV – “If we turn it off, they are not happy!“- and the number of wheelchairs that take place around the restaurant tables while the lunch hour is still far away testify to the old age and the loss of autonomy of the residents.

Benefits for healthcare professionals, not shareholders

In other words, if Les Jardins d’Haïti are an exception, they still encounter difficulties identical to all nursing homes. In the lead, the reports of the staff. With 50 professionals – caregivers, but also technicians or administrators – for 90 residents, of which 14 in the Alzheimer’s sector, the Marseille nursing home is exactly on the French average, set at 0.57.

The difference in organization obviously comes from what the plant management believes. Since its creation in 1950 by Suzanne, Laurent’s great-grandmother, as an association for vulnerable people, it has only improved the humanism of its approach. Grandfather Robert made it a real retirement home, before Jacques, the father, started “breaking the codes” by hiring a GO from Club Med as an animator. Each generation of Boucraut has therefore participated in the construction of this model.

At the table of friends, toast to a peaceful retirement despite old age and the loss of autonomy. (Photo CD).

But the way the association manages its finances is also good. The director thus underlines that like all retirement homes, Les Jardins d’Haïti works “two speeds“:”On the one hand, the health part, financed by the “care” package allocated by the state and which pays particular attention to caregivers. On the other hand, the hotel part for accommodation and catering.

It is in this sector that profits are possible. Here they are reintegrated into the functioning of the structure and allow for the budgeting of two additional caregiver positions, rather than enriching the shareholders.

A philosophy allowed by the association statute of this retirement home, say the cynics. Impostor! The Boucraut family, under the aegis of Stéphane, Laurent’s brother, implements the same policy in the Jardins du Cigaloun, in Volx, in the Alpes-de-Hautes-Provence, their establishment certainly independent of any group, but all also private For profit.

Low staff turnover

Here is how, when asked if he is in the Jardins d’Haïti, the charming Martine writes: “It’s clear!Right behind her, “the table of friends” will certainly not say otherwise. As noon strikes and we are about to serve the appetizer – a mouthwatering duck mousse -, the five gentlemen clink glasses of rosé, as if raising their glasses at Martine’s declaration. Across the restaurant, Guy and Marie-France have taken their seats at the table where, every day, they have lunch alone. Falling in love at Jardins d’Haiti is not far from paradise yet!

Bon appetit ladies and gentlemen!“, in turn launches Jean-Marc, the guest. With his presence, he too testifies to the well-being that reigns around him. With more than 25 years in the establishment, he is one of the most former employees Valérie, the head chef there for two years, or Pauline, executive assistant who is completing her first year at the Jardins d’Haiti, would certainly have nothing against such seniority.

If the staff are so loyal to Les Jardins d’Haïti, it’s because it’s great to work there. “The atmosphere is good with everyone”, assures Mégane, a nurse, with a knowing look towards Martine. (Photo CD).

On the caregiver side, turnover is also low. “If I’ve been here for so long, it’s because there’s this extra thing“, smiles Mégane, nurse and deputy manager. Arrived in 2016, she specifies that”six years in a retirement home is a long time“, but that he has no desire to leave for the moment.”It’s fun to work like this. The atmosphere is good with everyone: staff and residents. I don’t come with a lump in my stomach and most importantly, if I were to find a facility for a loved one, I wish they were here.

This is what Laurent did as well as Martine is his wife’s grandmother.

However, Mégane has an interest in planning ahead: the waiting list for a place at the Jardins d’Haïti grows with the reputation of the place.

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