French postal workers are offering a new service – they will pop in and chat to elderly people living alone and then inform their children living far away if there are any problems.
La Poste has introduced the ‘Veiller sur mes parents’ (‘Watch over my parents’) service to reassure customers that their elderly parents or relatives are in good health. It can be used by people in the UK – or anywhere – who have an elderly relative living in France.
The postmen and women pop in to have a chat for between five and 10 minutes while on their daily rounds. They have a list of questions such as “Are you well?”, “Do you need any shopping?” and “Do you need a doctor?”.
Once they have the answers, the elderly person signs that the information is correct and the replies are sent by text or email to the relative via an app, and to a pre-decided list of other people who have agreed to be contacted if necessary. There must always be someone on the list local to the elderly person who can react if there is a problem.
For La Poste, it is a way to diversify as the amount of mail diminishes and to use their unique position of making daily visits to a large proportion of the population. It is also hoped that it will help keep elderly people in their own homes for longer.
The postal workers have had special training to help them manage the different situations they might come across. There are contracts for between one and six visits a week, costing from €19.90 a month, which promises one visit per week, to €139.90 for six visits.