Two years after the Orpea scandal, it is the turn of the Emera group, founded in 1987, to be in the spotlight since the filing of complaints and testimonies targeting its nursing homes.
This group, which has 7,000 employees and more than 100 establishments in France and Europe, is accused of failure by families and "mistreatment" by the CGT, which is demanding a referral to the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas).
"It appears that the Emera group maintains a system of generalized mistreatment that takes place every day among their residents and employees," said Sophie Binet, the head of the trade union federation, in a letter sent to the Minister of Solidarity Aurore Bergé, the Defender of Rights Claire Hédon and the founder of the group of nursing homes Claude Cheton.
According to her, the CGT, the group's largest trade union organisation, has "been alerted by many employees and families of residents of the group to situations of physical and verbal violence, breaches of care and hygiene".
A dozen complaints
In Gironde, an investigation has been opened for "habitual violence on a vulnerable person", according to the Bordeaux prosecutor's office, after a complaint against the establishment "Douceur de France", in Gradignan. At the origin of this complaint, Alice Legendre explained that she found "her grandmother in the refectory, without dentures, so that meant that she had not been able to eat, and after discovering her mattress soaked in urine".
"My grandmother is sometimes forced to wash herself even though she is 96 years old and in a wheelchair," she said, confiding her "emotion" at finding her "dirty and smelly bad". In total, Alice Legendre's lawyer, Pierre Farge, assures that a dozen complaints against Emera have been filed and are being followed up by his firm.
In the Paris region, the Ehpad de la Tournelle, in La Garenne-Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) has also been the subject of several reports, in particular to the Regional Health Agency (ARS). The latter confirmed that she had carried out a visit to the establishment on 14 November which showed "shortcomings in care, which require the implementation of tight support".
In addition, a former head of the Centre-North region of the Emera group, who requested anonymity, described to AFP a "frightening" situation in the same Ile-de-France establishment with thefts, "forgotten residents", "medicines given to the wrong patients" and "morphine that is not given in the evening, due to the lack of a nurse present".
Tighter controls on nursing homes
For its part, the Emera group formally denied the accusations made against its staff and said it was "particularly moved by this disinformation campaign which is hitting its employees hard". The group said it had recorded five complaints in the space of two years in October, adding that "none of these complaints has resulted in a conviction or indictment" of its responsibility at this stage.
"We have a policy of transparency with regard to guardianships and of exchanging with families as soon as an event occurs," the group adds, assuring that it systematically opens "internal investigations" and implements "corrective actions."
These new accusations about senior homes come nearly two years after the Orpea scandal that broke in January 2022 in the wake of the publication of the investigative book "The Gravediggers", by journalist Victor Castanet and on cases of mistreatment of residents of the private group of retirement homes.
Following this scandal, the executive announced a strengthening of controls on nursing homes by the ARS and departmental councils. A strategy to combat the mistreatment of vulnerable people and a text on "Ageing Well" were also announced, with a focus on this issue.
These measures are "insufficient" and "absolutely not up to the challenge" according to Claudette Brialix, president of the National Federation of Associations of Elderly Persons in Institutions and their Families.