Faced with mistreatment in nursing homes, the public authorities are “not up to it”, according to the Defender of Rights

The Defender of Rights is once again sounding the alarm about the situation of the elderly in nursing homes. “We are still seeing violations of the rights of residents in nursing homes (…). The response of the public authorities is not commensurate with the attacks denounced, nor with the urgency”regrets in an interview with Sunday newspaper Claire Hédon, who presents Monday a follow-up report of sixty-four recommendations issued in May 2021, during the Covid-19 crisis.

The May 2021 document and Victor Castanet’s book, The Gravediggers, an updated version of which is expected by the end of January, “have raised awareness, not just of the public authorities, but of society as a whole”, emphasizes Claire Hédon. Nevertheless, much remains to be done.

She quotes “an increase in reports” with the Defender of Rights, who had investigated some nine hundred complaints during the six years preceding the 2021 report, and two hundred and eighty-one in just eighteen months.

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The follow-up detailed in the report was drawn up from complaints and “responses provided by the ministries and public bodies to the recommendations that we addressed to them”specifies the Defender of Rights.

It is “abuse” (43% of cases), “limited visits” (30%), of “restrictions on the freedom to come and go” (12%). These shortcomings concern both the private and the public. Gold “Eighteen months after the first report, the results are extremely worrying: 9% of our recommendations have resulted in action, 55% have been announced but are struggling to materialize, and 36% remain without answer “deplores Claire Hédon.

His main recommendation is to fix “a minimum ratio of supervision”including “at least eight caregivers and facilitators for ten residents in nursing homes”. “In France, the ratio is 6 to 10, where the countries of the North are at 10”she says to JDD. And “if you restore a normal supervision rate, the nursing assistants will come back to work there”.

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“Arbitrary isolation”

According to the report to be presented on Monday, “certain treatments”like the toilet, are “organized in an accounting logic to reduce the number of staff”. He evokes the residents of an Ehpad who had “at best a shower every two weeks” and remained for some “most of the time in a hospital gown or pajamas”. To compensate for the lack of personnel, the establishment imposed “two days of bed rest per week per resident”.

Another black spot, the untimely confinements in establishments following some contaminations with SARS-CoV-2. The Defender of Rights requests “put an end to violations of the freedom to come and go” and of “restore the right to maintain family ties for residents in nursing homes” (this question constitutes 46% of the complaints received).

She cites “case of arbitrary isolation of residents in their rooms” or of “visiting restrictions”details examples of “prohibition of the presence of a relative during meals; obligation to keep the doors of the rooms open in order to verify compliance with maintaining a distance between people; prohibition of physical contact, such as taking hands”.

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Furthermore, the report highlights the weaknesses in the fight against ill-treatment, pointing in particular to the lack of“a reliable measurement tool shared by all supervisory authorities”. He asks for a “medico-social vigilance system to strengthen the identification, reporting and analysis of situations of mistreatment”.

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To this end, the government has already launched three administrative missions in September to develop ways to better identify, quantify and prevent mistreatment of the elderly.

Welcoming the government’s decision to inspect all 7,500 Ehpads in the wake of the Orpea scandal, the Defender of Rights notes “lack of human resources” to make “required inspections”.

Announced in March 2022 by the government, the publication of ten key indicators on each establishment to help families make their choice is still pending.

Update from January 25 at 2 p.m.: the number of reports recorded by the Defender of Rights since 2021 has been rectified.

The World with AFP

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