nursing homes escape new restrictions for the holidays

« The elderly have the same rights as other citizens. Our watchword here is freedom. ” Like the ten accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people (Ehpad) contacted, Magalie Bilhac is reassuring. The director of the Les Jardins du Riveral residence in Gignac (Occitanie) did not take restrictive measures as Christmas approached, favoring confidence in its residents and staff. “We have never had a case of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, because we are very careful with barrier gestures. Now, we are well established, especially as the 55 employees have all had their booster dose ”, she explains. His only requirement? “That visitors from outside the establishment present a valid health pass, as required by the government.”

→ TRIBUNE. Ehpad: “Be careful not to prioritize survival over life! “

“Protect without isolating. “ This is indeed the strategy adopted by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, in order to deal with the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. The minister delegate in charge of autonomy, Brigitte Bourguignon, recalled, during a press conference on Monday, December 20, “The importance of social life” for nursing home residents, while emphasizing the “Strict respect for barrier gestures”. “The more restrictive management measures, in particular the stopping of visits and the suspension of outings, must remain exceptional and be strictly conditional on the development of a cluster within the establishment”, she added.

” Common sense “

A speech by ” common sense “ for Eve Guillaume, director of the Lumières d’Automne nursing home in Saint-Ouen (Île-de-France). “Christmas is a time of joy for our residents. We can not prevent them from seeing their loved ones, especially since most of them have their complete vaccination schedule “, she explains. An observation shared by Stephan Meyer, vice-president of the National Association of coordinating physicians and the medico-social sector: “The elderly should in no case be ostracized, at the risk of having consequences on their mental health.

For the geriatrician, however, the end-of-year holidays represent a period “Disturbing”. “With the euphoria of the reunion, the barrier measures are not likely to be respected 100%. This situation, coupled with the fact that vaccines do not offer total immunity, and that the youngest are important vectors of the virus, makes me fear an outbreak of clusters after the holidays ”, he specifies.

Rule hardening

It is to anticipate this fear, perennial, that certain directors of nursing home have tightened the rules of visit within their establishment, going so far as to exceed the legislation in force. “For my part, in addition to the health pass, I ask visitors for a PCR or antigen test whose result is negative, so as not to take any risk”, testifies anonymously one of them. As of December 19, according to the Ministry of Health, around 4% of the 7,500 French nursing homes have experienced a cluster episode, defined by the presence of at least three proven cases of Covid-19 within the establishment.

→ INVESTIGATION. In nursing homes, melodies against illness

“We have heard of quite a few establishments which have limited visits, yes. And when we ask them about it, they tell us that they are only applying the government circular ”, says Pascal Champvert, president of the association of directors in the service of the elderly (ADPA). In the event of a cluster, the directors can indeed take the necessary measures to remedy it. “ We are opposed to these rules, which reflect a security logic. Do you realize all the families who will be deprived of Christmas if we close establishments or limit visits, for only three cases of Covid-19 in an nursing home? “, adds Pascal Champvert. For the latter, the context of festivals does not justify an “overprotection” of the elderly. Including with the arrival of the Omicron variant: “If there are new measures to be taken, it will be necessary to see what is done on a national scale, and not to consider that the residents of nursing home are apart. “

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