Seniors “rationed”, abandoned in their excrement or left without care for days: the publication of a book-investigation denouncing the obsession with profitability within the French group Orpéa, the world leader in accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people (Ehpad), led to a sharp fall in its price on the Paris Stock Exchange on Monday, January 24.
The stock market index of Orpéa, manager of private clinics and retirement homes, fell 16% on Monday, before its listing was suspended at the company’s request.
The group is implicated in the book The Gravediggers, by journalist Victor Castanet, to be published on January 26 by Fayard, and whose The world published the good sheets on Monday. The author describes a system where hygiene care, medical care, and even residents’ meals are “rationed” to improve the profitability of the company, and this while the stays are invoiced at a high price.
A life supporter, whose testimony the author collected, tells, for example, how much she had to “fight for protection” for residents. “We were rationed: it was three diapers a day maximum. And not one more. It doesn’t matter that the resident is sick, that he has gastro, that there is an epidemic. Nobody wanted to know anything”, says this woman in The Gravediggers.
The book also looks back on the conditions of the death of the writer Françoise Dorin in January 2018, following a badly treated bedsore, less than three months after her entry into one of the establishments of the Orpéa group.
A list of 56 questions
Orpéa disputed Monday afternoon in a press release all the accusations, which it considers “false, outrageous and prejudicial”. “Such attacks are unfortunately not new but are extremely violent in a context where our teams have been even more mobilized for two years by the health crisis”, deplores the group, which specifies having seized its lawyers to give “all the consequences, including on the judicial level”, to the publication of the book in order “to reestablish the truth of the facts”.
During his investigations, Victor Castanet was on several occasions in contact with the Orpéa group. But the leaders – current or past – whom he approached refused to answer him. Exchanges, often tense, with the group’s communication department suggested that the latter was going to challenge its working method and the alleged facts. In an email dated March 8, 2020, the director of this service denounced in advance a “investigation”. When, at the end of the investigation, the journalist submitted a list of 56 questions to Orpéa, he was told that it would be impossible to satisfy his request, all “teams” being mobilized by the health crisis.
The stock market storm triggered by the publication of this book also affected other private groups managing retirement homes: the Korian share lost some 10% in the course of the afternoon, and that of LNA Santéa fell by 4% – in an overall market down very sharply by 3.55%.