Au sein du quartier Val Sully à Saint Apollinaire (Bourgogne, France),
l’espace « Générations »
Faced with the emergence of three basic needs, one in the sector of public housing, the second in early childhood, and the third in the service of older people, the community of Saint-Apollinaire, France, a town of 6000 inhabitants located in the suburbs of Dijon, has provided an original response.
It would have been easy to respond in a traditional manner by creating conventional housing, for some a cradle and for others a retirement home. Nonetheless, in 1995, taking into account the need to create new connections between the generations and taking advantage of the creation of a new neighborhood which would accommodate over 2000 people, the municipality, through its mayor Remi Delatte and three entities - the FEDOSAD (Federation of Works for Home Support) through the original vision of its President Michel Thiry; the Low-Rent Housing office, (HLM); and the OPAC (Office of Public Planning and Building) and its President Maddy Guy - committed to an innovative project called “Generations.”
The philosophy of this new kind of habitat was to create various services within the same place that would serve several generations. It was not to be a mere juxtaposition of exclusive places reserved for special functions. These different spaces were all to integrate the same philosophy. They were to make up a coherent whole adapted to the needs of each generation, a space for intergenerational encounters.
This type of an operation cannot be established by just one group. Knowing this, the idea of collaboration arose between the three partners. In addition, this small autonomous region wanted to make the most of its status as a town in the countryside and develop its slogan, “the village spirit”.
Since 1996, Saint-Apollinaire has implemented a municipal gerontological plan in order to determine the needs of the elderly of the township. In 1997, the project became a reality. As Director of the FEDOSAD establishments, I drafted the first specifications for the project to form a coherent whole and adapt to the needs of everyone.
On a 1.2 hectare plot, detached housing was built in the middle of a 40 hectare field. Free space allows you to imagine the "generations", a place where a group of people of mixed ages could live.
The project comprises:
THE RESIDENCES: The residences include 76 apartments of public housing; they are rented out through OPAC of Dijon, half of them for young couples with at least one child who is 5 years old or younger, and half of them for retirees. To access public housing, one must not have resources exceeding an established ceiling, must meet certain age criteria, and must sign a charter named "Hello Neighbor" (which is a moral commitment to participate in mutual assistance between the generations) In addition to these independent apartments, there are :
STRUCTURES FOR OLDER PERSONS WHO ARE DEPENDENT:
- A sheltered residence for six older persons who are psychologically dependent. This enlarged apartment offers a small group home for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders. Trained and motivated professionals are on site.
- A communal residence for fourteen older persons who are physically dependent. This small unit ensures companionship and the care necessary for residents--also through the presence of several professionals.
- Two places for temporary or overnight accommodation distributed through the apartment buildings for older persons living at home and requiring a break from their relatives,
- A day center for thirteen elderly persons with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders who are living in the community.
A center for home services
A place to greet people and provide information, community activities, coordination, and mediation. The goal is to ensure a link between all the activity centers managed by the FEDOSAD and the municipality, and all in an intergenerational spirit.
MUNICIPAL SERVICES FOR FAMILIES:
- A day care center: Children who are two months to four years old are accepted for half a day or for a few hours, and are cared for by qualified professionals. This service is available from Monday to Friday and can accommodate up to 30 children.
- An intermediary service for baby-sitters (serves up to 90 baby-sitters): The mission of this service is to arrange meetings between child care paraprofessionals taking care of infants in their homes with early childhood educators in order to talk about daily difficulties or just to play with the children.
- Toys and games section: This area is totally devoted to playing; the toys may also be borrowed. This center is open to the entire population (children, adolescents, parents, grandparents, childcare assistants, etc.) Everyone can find a place to play alone or with their family, as well as obtain counseling and information. This was converted over time into a place for community activities for all generations, and is now called “Mosaic”.
- School restaurant: Managed by the municipality, it ensures care for Saint-Apollinaire school children on Wednesday, the day when school is closed. This care is provided by the retirees of the community who come and have lunch there themselves. Community activities have been set up by a counselor in order to offer the opportunity to local people, children, and older persons of doing things together. Early childhood professionals and those who offer various services for older persons have found there is great interest in the various public encounters they have set up throughout the year.
SPACE OPEN TO ALL
A Regional Hall is open for various activities—e.g., association meetings, holiday festivities, or exhibitions.
TO PROMOTE THE VILLAGE SPIRIT
Because of these different services, the generations come together and participate in common activities. But intergenerational connections are not decreed: they come is alive. It is not enough to just affirm the need for relationships between the generations for them to take place. The means for such a dynamic to emerge must be provided. Now after 10 years in existence, we can say that Generations is a success. To replicate it, one must recapture the alchemy of a real estate opportunity and a close partnership with motivated staff and deeply involved elected officials.
Pierre Henri DAURE
Directeur des établissements
FEDOSAD (Fédération Dijonnaise des Œuvres de Soutien à Domicile et accueil en établissements)
Association à but non lucratif 21000 DIJON, France