Posted Jul 15, 2022, 12:30 PM
Politicians have not finished learning the lessons of the Orpea affair. Senators are calling on the government to trigger financial audits at the headquarters of all lucrative private retirement home groups within the next two years. A way, according to them, to put an end to the “blind spots” of the controls of retirement homes.
“The supervisory authorities are not fulfilling their mission, in any case not sufficiently”, declared Wednesday the senator of the Loire Bernard Bonne (Les Républicains) on the occasion of the presentation of the report of a fact-finding mission on the control of accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people (Ehpad).
Priority to private groups
Defending himself from any “Ehpad-bashing”, this mission was launched after the journalist Victor Castanet denounced in a book published in January the management of the Orpea group and the resulting ill-treatment of the elderly. Since then, the government has taken legal action. He also promised to carry out checks in the 7,500 French retirement homes, public and private, over the next two years.
“It is not the priority for us”, declared Bernard Bonne, the rapporteur of the mission with Michelle Meunier (Socialist, Ecologist and Republican Group). “The priority is above all to control, in particular financially, all the lucrative private nursing homes. We talked a lot about Orpea, but I think there is a lot to see today at the level of all the other lucrative private groups, ”he insisted.
Concretely, the senators of the fact-finding mission recommend that the executive launch – as it has already done with Orpea before going to court – audits by the General Inspectorates of Finance (IGF) and Social Affairs (IGAS) . And in the next two years. Controls could then be extended to private non-profit groups or even public groups.
Elected officials consider that it is not enough to simply target establishments, as is done today by the Regional Health Agencies, nor to focus solely on issues of mistreatment, but to flush out financial organizations which could in particular cause problems on the ground.
“What was put in place by Orpea and perhaps by others was an excessive centralization of their entire system, the local directors had no autonomy (…) and no one controlled the national level “, justified Bernard Bonne.
Use of public funds
The challenge for the senators is “to organize a regular dialogue between the public authorities and these groups”. And to ensure that the public money paid for the care of the elderly and dependent people is not diverted by the seats, to the detriment of the residents. Hence the technical proposals to clarify the rules for the use of public funds and better control them.
The elected officials, some of whose ideas overlap with those formulated in other reports, would also like controls to be more coordinated. Today, in addition to the Regional Health Agencies, the repression of fraud (DGCCRF) or the labor inspectorate can intervene in establishments.
“There are controls that were put in place but in silos,” insisted Bernard Bonne. Hence the proposal to create, at the national level, a control management committee. And to decline it at the departmental level.
Growing place of the private sector
The report is also moved by the “growing place of private groups in the nursing home sector”, which can even be predominant in certain departments. “It is absolutely necessary that we limit the expansion of these private commercial structures,” said Bernard Bonne.
Knowing that the private offer can be expensive and therefore not very accessible for a large number of people, the senators would like the public to be able to “take their full place”. The idea would be for the authorities to have more of a say when retirement homes change hands (with a right to oppose authorization transfers).
Advocating a number of legislative measures and more resources, the senators did not fail to recall that the promise made during the previous five-year term to adopt a law on old age and autonomy has still not been honored.