Ehpad scandal: “8 months later, the situation has not changed”

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Revelations that shook the country. Eight months ago, at the end of January 2022, the French discovered with horror that residents of nursing homes were being mistreated in establishments of the Orpea group. The book Les Fossoyeurs, published by journalist Victor Castanet, then revealed in broad daylight what was being done out of sight, once the doors were closed. Very quickly, the testimonies multiplied and the families of residents began to worry. In the process, the government announced a vast plan of controls of the various Ehpad of the territory, over two years.

These cases of abuse, which Planet also echoed, deeply shocked the country. Eight months later, the storm passed, where are we? Almost nowhere, according to several associations for the defense of residents or their families. In a letter that we were able to obtain, associations and collectives launched an “urgent appeal in favor of residents in nursing homes and elderly people accompanied at home” and asked the government to help them build “a real life project” for our elders.

Questioned by Planet, Patrick Collardot – founder of the TouchePasMesVieux association – affirms that “not much has changed” since the revelations of last winter. “The feedback on the ground shows that the situation is still the same, there is no new law and it is the status quo”, he specifies. His association, like others, continues to receive testimonies from families whose loved ones are victims of abuse, sometimes through negligence or lack of care. Is it the government’s fault? “The Ministry of Health is taking the problem head on,” says Patrick Collardot, adding that a cell has been set up there to collect testimonies from these families. Problem, he would receive much less than what is happening in reality…

Testimonies of abuse reach the ministry, which encourages associations and collectives to report them, even anonymously, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. If it is a good thing that the public authorities are aware of what is happening in certain establishments, for Patrick Collardot it is far from enough. His association, like others, asks above all that the law of old age be effective, “finally giving the necessary means for dignified support for all people weakened by age, at home and in establishments and thus allowing that Ehpads become a real place of normal life and support”.

If he knows that this text will require a titanic and long-term work, the founder of TouchePasMesVieux is also campaigning for the implementation of small improvements, which would make life easier for residents on a daily basis. This is particularly the case of the Social Life Council, which opens up dialogue between management, families of residents and staff. Others directly concern the daily life of the elderly, such as the quality of meals or that of entertainment. Despite the latest revelations, the associations are well aware that the time will still be long…

More listened to than before the scandal in certain establishments, the associations for the defense of residents and their families know that nothing is yet decided. TouchePasMesVieux notes that small things are already moving on the government side, but that “the only viable and lasting way to change things is to work at the level of the texts”. “As long as the standards do not change, the advances will be temporary”, adds Patrick Collardot with Planet. This means modifying the regulatory texts, which will take a long time.

Among the advances requested by his association is the modification of the “police power” of establishments. While they have the right to decide on the total closure of the establishment to protect residents, Patrick Collardot asks that directors not use it to close the doors to families on weekends or certain mornings. “I don’t see what the positive side is for residents not seeing their loved ones. When they don’t see them, they go down the slope, they don’t go up it…”, he insists to Planet, before conclude: “You have to change a situation that is not acceptable”.