Photo/IllutrationNicole Mourain-Jacquin, founder of Anggel’Dom (Anggel’Dom)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Now 64 years old, Nicole Jacquin has dedicated much of her life to the cause of improving conditions for elderly people at the end of their lives--a testament to both her empathy and determination.

“I didn’t want to put my 86-year-old mother in a cold, impersonal place where the staff are overstretched,” explained Jean, a 58-year-old bailiff from the Greater Paris region.

Instead, last July he called upon Anggel’Dom, a home-based care service that aims to improve the living conditions for elderly people wishing to remain in their own homes.

There are four co-founders behind this nascent project launched in 2017, one of whom is Jacquin.

“Once I get an idea in my head, I have to see it through,” Jacquin remarked.

That is somewhat of an understatement. At the age of 25, she successfully defended her thesis in general medicine and embarked on a career in geriatric medicine at a hospital in Paris before setting up on her own at 50.

Now retired, she has set her sights on revolutionizing home-based care.

In 2006, Jacquin hit upon the idea of bringing dogs onto hospital wards on a permanent basis. It was a “source of happiness for the patients and a way of livening things up a bit,” as she put it.

The initiative has since been recognized as bringing significant well-being benefits to patients, but it was refused at the time by the senior managers of the hospital where she was working.

EMPATHY AND PATIENCE

Having spent a quarter of her life in hospitals, Jacquin in 2002 decided to resume training.

At the age of 49, Jacquin, the mother of three children, began a degree at the Ecole de management des medecins des hopitaux (School of Management of Hospital Doctors) in Paris.

After graduating, she managed various retirement homes in the French capital.

But as a strong advocate of “empathy and patience” with the elderly, she found herself confronted with a mentality of “filling spaces.”

Six years later she set up as a geriatrician, a profession that she had already been practicing part-time.

Passionate about her job, Jacquin nevertheless laments what she sees as a culture of “hypocrisy around the subject of end-of-life care” in France.

The question is “often taboo and is rarely raised by doctors, despite its primordial importance, especially given that France has an aging population,” she said.

Determined to help make up for these failings, in 2010 she founded the National Association of Geriatricians and Gerontologists--Liberal Professionals, which she presided over for six years.

This collective came up with a system designed to facilitate the sharing of medical data of elderly persons living at home via a tablet.

Through this technology, medical practitioners who visit the patient at home--doctors, physiotherapists, dentists--can record various data such as prescriptions, heart rate and recent incidents, which enables them to keep each other updated.

Since the tablet is connected 24/7 to a specialized platform, both family and doctors can be informed of any problems.

The system helps limit unwanted hospital stays, as well as overmedication. In 2016, it was tested on 30 patients over an 18-month period.

POPULATION GROWTH

The findings were conclusive. Jacquin and three of her collaborators--one of whom was her husband--decided to commercialize the service under the name Anggel’Dom.

The arduous task, hampered by “lengthy administrative procedures,” was finally successful in May 2017.

Initially limited to a few departments in the Greater Paris region, the start-up has recently spread to the capital and has a dozen clients on its books, scattered between Paris and Neuilly, west of the capital.

Jacquin is optimistic, especially when she compares the cost of Anggel’Dom (180 euros, or about 23,400 yen, per month minimum) with the fees of a place in a retirement home.

Philippe Taurand, geriatrician at Simone Veil Hospital in the northern suburbs of Paris, said he sees the development of this type of home-based care as a very positive step.

Given “huge population growth, what elderly people want for themselves, as well as current technological progress,” this type of initiative is even a “necessity,” he concluded.

It is a view that is shared by Laurence Plissonneau, Anggel'Dom’s coordinator, who said the system helps “save time and energy for everyone involved.”

PASSING ON OUR STORIES

In setting up this service, Jacquin hopes to not only improve end-of-life care for elderly persons--as she did for her own father, who died in 2017--but also to prevent them from being neglected by their relatives.

The retired doctor is convinced that “every elderly person has a story to tell” and regrets that “knowledge that could be passed down from generation to generation is being lost.”

Her own family is close-knit, and she confided that she has already raised the subject of her own death with her children.

“They know that I plan to stay at home until the very end if I stay in good health, and if not, I intend to commit suicide,” Jacquin stated plainly.

Her hope for the coming years is to extend the scope of Anggel’Dom to people with disabilities and those suffering from chronic illnesses, both in France and internationally.

It’s a natural step for Jacquin, who for the last seven years has been dividing her time between France and Morocco, a destination she chose for its gentle pace of living and proximity to Paris.

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Editor's note: With March 8 celebrated around the world as International Women's Day, the Paris-based nonprofit media organization Sparknews asked newspapers and news sites to contribute articles on the theme of "Women in Businesses For Good" (WB4G).

While 45 percent of social entrepreneurs in the world are women, they also face hurdles because of their gender as they develop their pet projects. International Women's Day is designed to shed light on how women's capabilities can help resolve issues facing the world today.

A total of 21 media organizations, including The Asahi Shimbun, have responded to the request from Sparknews and contributed articles about women social entrepreneurs who have had an impact on society.

AJW introduces some of those stories.