Montessori method:
for the elderly too!

We mainly know the Montessori method as an alternative pedagogy for the development of children respecting their uniqueness, but it has also proven its worth in supporting the elderly, in particular at Colisee.


The expression « entreprise a mission » or « societe a mission » refers to a type of business whose purpose, whose “foundational meaning”, makes it possible to reconcile economic performance and contribution to the general interest, whether from a social, societal or environmental point of view.

Created in 1907 by Maria Montessori, Italian doctor and pedagogue, the method is centred on the sensory education of the child and is based on three fundamentals: the posture of the educator, the adaptation of the environment and the specific teaching material. Its transposition to the elderly is more recent. It dates back twenty years and is attributed to the American neuropsychologist Cameron Camp, author of several books on the subject including "Alzheimer, a life full of challenges, practical solutions for a peaceful daily life".

Supporting all professionals

The training courses of AG & D "Montessori lifestyle", partner of Colisee, are precisely based on this work and are continuously deployed within the teams since the group has chosen to support managers in implementing the culture of well-treatment through this non-medicinal, humane and positive approach. Since 2015, training and raising awareness have taken place in all establishments, including direction, coordinating doctors, nurses, psychologists, caregivers, in short all the professionals of the group, so that they share the same vision of the profession and the same outlook on residents. More than 800 employees per year have been trained in this way for the last five years. According to the Montessori method, the EHPAD must adapt to the person and the caregiver is a facilitator who will help them regain their autonomy by giving them benchmarks, choices and control over their lives. Indeed, the basic premise is to consider that the person has capacities to rely on. Just as the Montessori method changes people’s idea on children and results in the constant search for their autonomy in schools, the same goes for the support of the elderly, notably when they are disoriented or suffering from Alzheimer's illness. The caregiver no longer looks on a patient, but on a human being caught in his singularity, respected in his free choice. A cultural change that requires an in-depth work as the current approaches to support the elderly, including the AGGIR and Pathos rating, focus more on disabilities and pathologies than on the potential of individuals.

An operational method coming to fruition

Examples? A person with cognitive disorders, permanently seated at the entrance, who was a receptionist in his professional life, may be valued in a similar role at the entrance of the establishment: he can thus become an actor of his life and is no longer passive. We can ask him if he wants to help welcome visitors. The result on his mood can be astounding! Another example, the installation of very legible signs (large font and logo) indicating the toilets makes it much easier for residents to find their way and to avoid "undergone incontinence". In terms of food too, the method is relevant: putting a white plate on a white tablecloth does not make eating easier for people with visual or cognitive disorders; on the contrary, play on colour contrasts. Using blue crockery or placemats indicating the location of the cutlery helps to restore benchmarks and facilitate feeding. Identifying the caregivers, with their first name and their function on a badge inscribed in very large font, is also essential to facilitate exchanges and avoid setbacks.

It is obviously not a question of infantilizing, even if the expression is not pejorative when one looks at the children differently, but of creating an environment which favours initiative taking and autonomy by relying on the capacities of people to help them to do, even for them to help caregivers to do!

The method is coming to fruition and the feedback via satisfaction surveys is positive. The approach is intended to be long-term: caregivers are trained over three years, partnerships are set up with Montessori schools to promote intergenerational exchanges and conferences are held in establishments to explain the benefits of the method to families. Continuously reinforced, the approach is, in its philosophy, now carried by the group at the European level.
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About Colisee
With 16 000 collaborators, COLISEE Group is a leading European player with benchmark expertise in serving and caring for the elderly. Its network of medical facilities and residences with services in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and China welcomes more than 25 000 residents and patients. Colisée offers also home services. Its majority shareholders are EQT and CDPQ.
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