Attitude towards the elderly in France: Are profitability and humanity compatible?

01.02.2018, Paris.

Manifestations of care home personnel against unbearable working conditions and undignified attitude towards elderly people took place across France on January 30, Rossa Primavera News Agency correspondent reports.

Answering the call of leading trade unions people in white robes took to the city streets under a slogan “Give money to the elderly”. Manifestations and pickets took place outside Prefectures, City Halls and Councils for Social Affairs. The protesters have exposed the “scandalous situation” of elderly care homes underfunding and demanded to cancel the reform undertaken by the government in order to increase their profitability.

In practice, underfunding leads to personnel being overloaded with work and lack of attention towards the pensioners. “A severe lack of funding can be observed in our field of work, the authorities are ignoring the state of the matter”, a manifestation participant says.

Many testimonies concerning the unbearable workload of nursing personnel have appeared in the press. Sometimes a single nurse must serve up to 20 people, all of whom require help during food intake and use of the restroom. Under such conditions, the elderly are “doomed to be treated badly”.

The nurses testify that sometimes for breakfast they are forced to mix bread with butter right in the cup of coffee to save time. More often than not, the tight schedule doesn’t allow to change the patient’s diapers in time or to wash them.

Saving funds has also been noted when it comes to buying medical materials and food. One of the carers told how the elderly received half an egg for supper. All this gives rise to indignation in staff, who demand to treat the elderly with dignity.

According to specialized medical journals, the heavy working rhythm and impossibility to preserve humanity cause staff to suffer from depression and fast burnout. An increase in number of suicides has been noticed among junior medical staff.

Despite the fact that last week Minister of Health and Solidarity Agnes Buzyn allocated an extra 50 million euro to the industry, with the lack of funds reaching 200 million, to the industry, the strike movement had not stopped. People working at care homes for elderly, from directors to nurses, speak about the authorities’“lack of knowledge” about what is going on.

 “France is not ready for the aging of the population”, French media outlets comment. “It’s impossible to speak about profitability in a humanitarian industry as it will lead to its death”, affirms one of the protest participants.

At the end of the day, Minister of Health in Paris received a strikers’ delegation and promised them to allocate 100 million euro instead of the aforementioned 50 million. Will the one-time infusion solve the whole heap of social problems?

In 2015 according to official statistics, 728 thousand people were housed in care homes for elderly, which is 35 thousand more than in 2011. With the rising number of senior citizens in need of care, the number of places available stayed the same.

In 2017, care home staff 120 strikes and pickets occurred in France, however that did not affect the situation in the slightest.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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