Orpea case: towards a strengthening of controls of nursing homes?

The leaders of some 2,000 private retirement homes are calling for an intensification of administrative controls and a new quality certification procedure, their main organization announced on Monday, January 31, while one of the giants in the sector, Orpea, is in turmoil.”Obviously we understand the emotion of the French” in the face of the revelations of the book “Les fossoyeurs” on the Ehpad d’Orpea, and “we are aware that we must restore confidence through transparency and ethics” , underlined during a press briefing Florence Arnaiz-Maumé, general delegate of Synerpa, union of private nursing homes. “This crisis highlights the need to urgently review the quality control and evaluation systems in nursing homes”, added this official, for whom the dysfunctions mentioned in the book, “if they are proven, are reprehensible”.

Retirement homes can currently be controlled by multiple stakeholders – departmental councils, regional health agencies, veterinary services (for hygiene in the kitchen), fire safety commissions, labor inspection, regional audit chambers… However, “there there are still too few unannounced checks, they must be strengthened, and above all the results of all these checks must be pooled in a single database, managed by a single actor”, proposed Florence Arnaiz-Maumé. The quality evaluation processes of nursing homes must also be reviewed, according to her. Currently “it is the establishments themselves who pay an audit firm to evaluate them, and the results are transmitted to the regional health agency and the departments”, she explained. “We should rather have a real certification procedure, carried out directly by the High Health Authority, as it does for clinics,” she added.

Synerpa is also open to an overhaul of the social life councils, these consultative bodies which, within each establishment, bring together representatives of residents, families and staff. These councils could be open to representatives of public authorities and elected officials, she argued. Synerpa will set up in the coming weeks a commission to draw up an “ethical charter”, which will involve external stakeholders, further explained the general delegate of the professional union. In the sector of support for the elderly, quality and profitability are not incompatible, she argued. To restore confidence, the sector is also ready to think about adopting a status of “mission-based companies”.

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