Accused of serious shortcomings in the care of the residents of its retirement homes, the Orpéa group tried to ignite a counter-fire by dismissing its general manager before the summons of its leaders by the government on Tuesday, and is now exposed. to “collective action” by families.
The board of directors of the company announced Sunday evening the departure of Yves Le Masne, employee of the group for 28 years and general manager for more than ten years. He was replaced by Philippe Charrier, promoted from non-executive chairman to CEO.
A new boss responsible for “ensuring that best practices are applied throughout the company and shedding light on the allegations” which have shaken the French giant of retirement homes for a week – 1,156 establishments, more than 116,000 beds in 23 country-, indicates the group in a press release.
At the origin of these shocks, the book-investigation “Les Fossoyeurs” by independent journalist Victor Castanet describes a system where hygiene care, medical care and even residents’ meals are “rationed” to improve profitability. of the company. And this while stays are charged at full price.
– Towards more controls? –
With the director of Orpea France, Jean-Christophe Romersi, the new CEO is expected Tuesday morning in the office of the Minister Delegate for the Autonomy of the Elderly, Brigitte Bourguignon. The minister summoned the two leaders “to hear them on the substantiated and exceptionally serious accusations” contained in the book, she said on Twitter. “I want all the light to be shed on the facts reported,” she added.
On the judicial level, Orpea is also under the threat of a “joint collective action” launched by families of angry residents. By filing a complaint simultaneously, these families “intend to be number, to have weight in the face of a giant”, explained Monday their lawyer, Me Sarah Saldmann, who wants to launch this procedure within a few weeks for, according to the files, “manslaughter , deliberate endangerment of the life of others, violence by negligence” or “non-assistance to a person in danger”.
For their part, the regional health agency (ARS) of Ile-de-France and the departmental council of Hauts-de-Seine, which each finance part of the activity of nursing homes, carried out an inspection of the facility on Friday. “Les Bords de Seine” establishment in Neuilly, an affluent suburb of the capital, where bad practices were commonplace according to the investigation by Victor Castanet.
The private nursing home sector as a whole “has nothing to hide” and is even asking for more controls, Synerpa, the main union for private nursing homes, argued on Monday.
“This crisis highlights the need to urgently review the quality control and evaluation systems in nursing homes,” said Florence Arnaiz-Maumé, Synerpa’s general delegate, during a press briefing. The professional organization will also soon set up a commission to draw up an “ethical charter”, said this official, for whom the dysfunctions mentioned in the book, “if they are proven, are reprehensible”.
– “Facade measurement” –
Cornered, the Orpea group disputes the revelations en bloc, and announced its own “independent assessment mission”, entrusted to “two leading firms” – still “in the process of being appointed”.
The dismissal of Mr. Le Masne “does not bode well that the accusations are founded”, according to a source close to the group. The company wants to “clear (its) honor” and “improve the system if there have been any malfunctions”, adds this source.
The title Orpea halved on the stock market last week. After opening higher on Monday morning, the title took a nose dive and lost 5.92% around 2:30 p.m. in a stable market.
For Camille Lamarche, who was a lawyer for almost a year at Orpea in 2018 in the human resources department and testifies in Victor Castanet’s book, the dismissal of the director is “a facade measure”.
“The policy put in place within these HR departments is a systematic and thoughtful policy which makes it possible to save money at the expense of the working conditions of employees,” she said on France Inter on Monday. “The unions, especially the CGT, are the bane of HR”, whose management has set up “a house union”, the Arc-en-ciel union.