• Since the release of the book "Les gravediggers", which revealed the dark underside of some Ehpad Orpea, the word is gradually being released on the dysfunctions that can occur in establishments welcoming dependent elderly people.

  • In recent years, nursing homes have been regularly questioned for their management based on the quest for profitability and the chronic lack of human and material resources, to the detriment of the well-being of residents.

  • Faced with this observation, some families choose to welcome their dependent parent at home to avoid nursing home.

Meals that are unappetizing and of low nutritional quality.

Toilet made watch in hand.

And diapers changed not too often so as not to start stocks.

If for years, the chronic lack of human and material resources in nursing homes has been regularly denounced, the publication of the book 

Les gravediggers

, which revealed behind the scenes of certain nursing homes of the Orpea group, has tarnished the image of part of the establishments welcoming our seniors, where their well-being is sometimes sacrificed on the altar of profitability.

Faced with this observation, the first concerned are often determined to stay at home as long as possible.

But when the loss of autonomy is too great and makes it impossible to stay at home, some families then choose to take their parent home to avoid nursing home.

A choice motivated by love and the desire to ensure the well-being of his parent during his last years, but which requires a well-established organization and unfailing dedication.

And which reserves its share of constraints, but which is very rewarding, as our readers tell it at

20 Minutes


“I always promised myself to avoid the Ehpad to my parents”

The hidden and dark side of nursing homes, Patricia, 68, knows it well.

“I worked as a caregiver, notably at Orpea and I always promised myself to avoid nursing homes for my parents when the time came”.

That moment was in March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They are independent, but with my father's heart problems, they could no longer live alone in their house located 45 minutes from my house.

So my 94-year-old dad and my 88-year-old mom came to live with us.

They financed the development of an apartment in our house: a large living room with a kitchen area, a bedroom and a bathroom suitable for the disabled, all on one level with direct access to the garden.

I help them with shopping, medication and day-to-day organization:

A few months ago, Michel, 55, moved in with his mother, 90 years old and suffering from Alzheimer's.

“On the ground floor, she has her bedroom, an adapted shower room and her toilet”.

Medical bed, bath seat, wheelchair and other technical medical equipment, "home health care providers (Psad) are there to support patients and their caregivers in setting up an environment adapted to the person's level of autonomy" , indicates the Federation of Psad.

A valuable support network

For day-to-day assistance and care, “depending on the degree of dependence and the assistance plan established by the departmental council within the framework of the APA (personalized autonomy allowance), different services can be put in place. , explains Ronald Lozachmeur, managing director of Assia Una network, an association providing assistance and care to people with loss of autonomy.

First of all, there is home help: for the maintenance of the house, preparing and giving meals, getting up and going to bed or even helping with simple washing, he says.

When dependency is more important, there is also the care provided by nursing assistants and the more technical care provided by our nurses.

Obviously, for family caregivers, this whole network is fundamental in order to be able to keep the distance physically and psychologically:

Thus, Michel sees every day the whole network of home help that he has woven for his mother: "A nurse comes by morning and evening for various treatments, a carer spends time with mum and takes care of the cleaning in her space. of life and a physiotherapist comes every week.

And my mother goes twice a week to day care where she meets other Alzheimer's patients”.

Valérie, she can count on helping her take care of her mother on a carer who "comes two to three times a day to watch over her and give her lunch when I work", she says.

"It's heavy", but "I regret nothing"

At 52, she does not regret her choice.

“Today, she is completely dependent and it is heavy and complicated to take care of her on a daily basis, but despite her state of health, she recognizes us and sees her grandchildren regularly.

And it's only happiness to see her smile, rejoices Valérie.

And in Ehpad, my mother would have died a long time ago ”.

An opinion shared by Dalila, 56, mother of a child with Down syndrome, who did not hesitate to welcome her mother.

However, “I didn't have any housekeepers or caregivers when she couldn't walk.

In the long run, it became difficult to reconcile work, my child and my mother, but with the help of my siblings, we took care of her until the end.

Today, she left us and I have no regrets: she was never hospitalized and lived until her last breath with her family.

I would much rather have taken care of it with great tenderness, like a mother for her child”.

“My sister is coming to replace me”

And counting on the entourage is decisive to lighten this daily life which requires significant logistics.

“We are lucky to live with my children and my grandchildren in the house next door,” says


If we are away, there is always someone there near them.

With four generations living together, this situation seems ideal to us


even if it is a significant logistical burden.

But my parents are easy-going and their great-grandchildren love to see them so often.”

"When we need to slip away with my husband, my sister comes to the house to replace me", says Dominique, 67, whose "father suffers from Charcot's disease".

Michel can count on the support of those close to him: "My wife helps me on a daily basis, my older sister takes care of mum's finances and my other sister takes care of our mother when we go away for the weekend or on holiday.

Mom's condition is deteriorating and it becomes complicated at times to manage my life as a couple, but for the moment it is holding up.

This is why “we offer a help service for carers, with a team that travels to their homes, because we now know that it is sometimes very difficult to be a carer”, observes Ronald Lozachmeur.

“I did not find any help available”

Because you have to be prepared for the difficulty.

When Christine, 59, decided at the time of the first confinement to welcome her father to her home in Lyon, she did not imagine what awaited her.

“At 89, he lived alone at home in Haute-Loire, he received nursing care twice a day for his indwelling catheter.

I contacted a total of forty-two nursing practices so that he could be treated at my home, without success, because this technical act, paid for only five euros, was not sufficiently remunerated for the time it takes.

So I learned to take care of it myself, even though my father has the means to cover these costs and I'm not a nurse.

Over time, my father loses autonomy and physically, it is difficult for me to manage.

Caregivers are not helped.

In practice, “as in hospitals and nursing homes, the home help sector is also hit by a chronic lack of staff, underlines Ronald Lozachmeur.

Except that, between the announcements of revaluation from which we have not benefited, the low salaries, the staggered hours, the journeys at home when the price of fuels flies away and that it is a question of care that the we generally work alone and not in a team, our sector is even less attractive.

There are many vacancies throughout the territory, for lack of sufficient attractiveness.

With direct consequences on the capacities of our structures to meet the demand which is growing and should explode.

It is time to make it a major political issue”.


Orpea case: "The work is done on the line..." Our readers describe the mistreatment experienced by their loved ones in Ehpad


Orpea case: Funding, logistics... How to organize home care for an elderly person to avoid nursing home?

  • Retirement home

  • Family

  • Orpea case

  • nursing home

  • The elderly

  • Health

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