March 24, 2023

On January 26, 2022, Victor Castanet’s book-investigation “Les Fossoyeurs” was released, revealing the abuse present within the Ehpad of the Orpea group. A year later, has the situation really changed?

Since then, “it’s zero tolerance”. This is what the general manager of Orpea Laurent Guillot assured this Wednesday, a year after the publication of the book-investigation “The Gravediggers” by Victor Castanet, revealing the living conditions of dependent elderly people and the working conditions of employees.

Asked about the current situation of the Orpea group, Laurent Guillot assured Franceinfo that “there is zero tolerance on illegal practices and on financial optimization practices”.

A few moments later, in the press, journalist Victor Castanet acknowledged that Orpea has since “changed certain practices such as the management of public money with the famous back margins on health products”.

If the private Ehpad group is still under investigation for “institutional abuse and financial offences”, it decided at the end of December to file a complaint against the former director Yves Le Masne. Dismissed from his position since January 30, 2022, he is targeted for “facts likely to characterize offenses of misuse of company property or credit, breach of trust, complicity, concealment or money laundering”.

Many changes

Arrived in July 2022, Laurent Guillot recognized that, without the book “Les Fossoyeurs”, “nothing would have changed” in the establishments.

According to the Minister of Solidarity, Jean-Christophe Combe, the government would have carried out 1,400 checks in nursing homes. Laurent Guillot demanded on this subject that there be more controls, boasting of having “nothing more to hide”.

According to the director of Orpea, the group would have hired “nearly 800 people per month over the first four months of 2022”, in order to provide the elderly with better follow-up and better treatment in nursing home. He thus assured to have increased by 10% this rate of accompaniment.

In addition to these changes, he also declared that there “is no rationing”, concerning the feeding of residents denounced by Victor Castanet in his book, and even indicated that he had increased the price of meals for the day by 35 %, with more fresh and organic products.

Nevertheless, despite these improvements, Laurent Guillot could not affirm that there was no longer any mistreatment: “no one from the public, private or associative sector can say that we are safe from a mistake,” he admitted. However, he said he would do “everything possible” to continue to “improve the quality of care and the quality of support that the whole system offers”.

A difficult financial situation

With a debt of 9 billion euros, Orpea is still struggling to reach an agreement with its creditors. With inflation, the purchase costs have particularly increased, making it all the more difficult to pay off the debt. Discussions are underway, in particular with the Caisse des dépôts represented by the State.

Laurent Guillot moreover reacted by declaring that it “has no problem” with this Caisse des Dépôts taking control of the group by entering its capital. “She would be a good shareholder and that would reassure our employees and our residents,” he added.

Nevertheless, the two parties should already find an agreement, without which Laurant Guillot will have to turn to other shareholders.

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