The shortcomings are numerous: scarcity of controls, announced in advance, collusion and "porosity" with the supervisory authorities... The deficiencies in the control of the retirement home giant Orpea accused of abuse were brought to light on Wednesday before a parliamentary committee.

Victor Castanet, author of the investigative book "Les Fossoyeurs", which caused an explosion by denouncing abuse in private nursing homes, and Amélie Verdier, director general of the regional health agency of Île-de-France, testified on Wednesday before the Social Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.

Checks announced in advance

"The regional health agencies have failed. They have been unable or unable to fulfill their primary mission, namely to ensure the proper use of public money and above all to protect our elders", denounced Victor Castanet, who evokes in his book the "feeling of impunity" of the Orpea group and its health subsidiary Clinea.

"This book questions the current system of supervision, control and inspection", recognized Amélie Verdier, who took over the management of the ARS last summer, which supervises 707 nursing homes, 45% of which are private, with 63,000 places in Ile-de-France.

The hearing confirmed the scarcity of controls, inspections which are only in a quarter of "unannounced" cases.

Most often nursing homes are notified several days, even one or two months in advance.

Since 2011, ARS Île de France has carried out 16 inspections in 14 establishments of the Orpea group, which has 57 establishments with 5,100 residents in the region.

Fewer and fewer inspections

At the national level, the leaders of Orpea had mentioned last week before the same commission 94 visits and inspections in 2016 (all authorities combined and for all its nursing homes), 75 in 2017, 55 in 2018, 49 in 2019, 18 in 2020 and 10 in 2021. Following nine "complaints" from families, the ARS ordered an inspection in August 2018 at the Ehpad Bords de Seine in Neuilly, accused in the book of mistreating residents who pay between 6,000 and 12,000 euros of accommodation each month.

The action plan then announced by management, the drop in the number of complaints and above all the Covid crisis mean that this luxury nursing home will no longer be subject to inspection before the scandal breaks out in January 2022, despite a " complaint" from a family about the suspicious circumstances surrounding a death that occurred in 2020, which resulted in a criminal complaint of manslaughter.

Public-private collusion

With the Covid crisis, the ARS, which has 20 inspectors and a pool of 200 professionals (doctors, pharmacists, nurses, etc.) who can be mobilized, has "reviewed and adjusted" its inspection program downwards, observed Madame Verdier.

In addition, control is fragmented: the ARS only controls care, the department being responsible for supervising what is dependent.

It only checks establishments, being unable to detect what could be a "system" organized at head office level or the retro-commissions that the group is accused of having received from its suppliers on products paid for with money. public.

Victor Castanet questioned before the deputy the "very strong porosity between the private and the public in this sector. A certain number of former senior officials of the ARS were hired by (the private groups) Orpea, Korian and others ".

"Some former inspectors now work within the Orpea group, therefore they know the control mechanisms, and still have a certain number of relationships with the ARS".


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Orpea case: The group of private nursing homes sued by several unions

  • Retirement home

  • nursing home

  • Orpea case

  • Society

  • Regional Health Agency

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