Helping support caregivers

March 23 2023

As every year with our national call for projects for organizations of general interest that support caregivers, a dozen structures will be selected and will receive financial and training support to develop their actions. Franck Guichet, sociologist and founder of the émiCité* research office, has been working with Crédit Agricole Assurances on the cause of caregivers for more than 10 years. He reviewed the mission of this annual call for projects.

From tackling territorial inequalities to developing inclusive housing and taking steps to help people who feel excluded from caregiver support schemes run by associations, CA Assurances’ 2023 Call for Caregiver Projects promotes concrete solutions for caregivers nationwide. What is your perspective as a sociologist on these issues?

These themes are in tune with the new forms of commitment to supporting family caregivers. It’s been known for a long time that support for caregivers involves multiple stakeholders, from organisations that manage healthcare institutions or medico-social services, and patients’, families’ or volunteers’ associations, to actors in the social and cultural sectors, local authorities and even companies! What all these actors share is their desire to take concrete steps and propose solutions. Many initiatives have therefore been developed in order to raise awareness, provide access to information, counselling and psychological support, respite care, and so on. These are essential services but much remains to be done in terms of organising a range of effective support services for caregivers. The themes of this call for projects put the spotlight on some of the new challenges facing the actors involved in supporting carers today.

What benefits can a long-term call for projects focusing on emerging or developing caregiver support topics offer project leaders?

The call for projects is a useful means of promoting or encouraging innovation, and of attaching importance to engagement. This call for projects offers the actors involved in supporting caregivers an opportunity, a way to increase the impact of their actions and a chance to challenge themselves to develop new solutions. The social welfare, solidarity, disability and elderly care sectors are a hotbed of innovation: they are constantly inventing new ways of thinking, building or repairing the links between us, mutually supportive relationships, our perception of fragility and our feeling of belonging to the same human race. But all these actors who are engaged – sometimes for many years – in supporting family caregivers, also suffer greatly from a lack of recognition. Their actions are still only vaguely identified and misunderstood by the public authorities.

This call for projects offers the actors involved in supporting caregivers an opportunity, a way to increase the impact of their actions and a chance to challenge themselves to develop new solutions.

And what about the national debate on the situation of caregivers?

Year after year, more and more people are becoming aware of the word “caregiver”, recognising themselves in this role and wanting to understand how to better support and meet the needs of the people they are helping. They want to find solutions to their problems; they perceive the risk of exhaustion and feel the need to reflect on all the questions arising from the assistance provided. But while all these caregivers are discovering the importance of this role in their personal lives, they also have the impression of being invisible to society. It’s time to recognise that caregivers are a precious but not inexhaustible resource, and that it is essential to strengthen all existing forms of support for elderly people requiring long-term care or people with disabilities in order to enable caregivers to choose rather than suffer in silence.

*Founder and Associate Director of the émiCité Studies Office, Franck Guichet is a sociologist who graduated from the University of Aix-Marseille. He has been working on home issues since 2005. Based on his research on home support for the elderly and the disabled (HAS/CNSA/DREES) and his ethnographic investigations of situations of people at the end of life, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or suffering from mental disorders, he studies the knowledge andDo that invent in helping relationships. He has been working for more than 10 years to professionalize home support professions and to organize the work of services.