“Hold-up on the elderly”, on Arte: the dangers of a Europe delivered to “old age profiteers”

Denise Sestier, 97 years old, is the one who speaks about it best: “I do not admit that we are potential sources of profitability for these large companies which rake in millions, billions

“Hold-up on the elderly”, on Arte: the dangers of a Europe delivered to “old age profiteers”

Denise Sestier, 97 years old, is the one who speaks about it best: “I do not admit that we are potential sources of profitability for these large companies which rake in millions, billions. We are no longer human people. For me, this is unacceptable. I suffer from it. » The old lady recorded in a notebook the dysfunctions – linked to missing or poorly trained staff – in the shared accommodation for elderly people where she lived for several months: a residence managed by the company Ages

Arte specifically investigated DomusVi in Spain. The French group, which is very established in the Iberian Peninsula, is accused of poor care of residents in its nursing homes by many families, but also by employees who testify. DomusVi cites the shortage of labor in the sector to exonerate itself from the cases of mistreatment with which it is accused.

But the two journalists also mention the proximity of the former Spanish director of DomusVi, Josefina Fernandez, with a leader of the Popular Party (right) who has long contributed to the impunity of the group, accused of limiting the hiring of personnel to free up profits. profits.

High profitability required

The documentary also focuses on the United Kingdom, where retirement homes are almost all private. Investment or venture capital funds are at the head of nursing home groups which demand high profitability. A system incompatible with the well-being of residents, decipher the authors of the investigation, who illustrate their demonstration with the story of the Four Seasons Health Care group, which changed ownership four times before being placed under judicial administration in 2019.

In Germany, where the home help sector is very developed, private companies bring from Eastern Europe women with flexible hours and less well paid than German staff. Between 300,000 and 600,000 home helpers, often foreigners, are thus “exploited”, explains Arte, with frantic work rhythms, generally not compatible with good quality of care.

Between these three countries, one thing in common: the public authorities have delegated the care of the very elderly to private actors. “They were encouraged to enter this sector. And today they are criticized for financing their shareholders, but that is their job. This is their raison d’être,” remarks economist Ilona Delouette, interviewed in the documentary on the driving forces behind the supremacy of the private sector.

Is this inevitable? In Europe, Denmark is a counter-model. The State and municipalities massively finance aid for seniors, encouraged to live at home. But the Danish model is criticized in the country because it costs taxpayers dearly. If older Europeans are so subcontracted to the commercial sector, budgetary issues are not the only reason. Society's negative view of old age encourages those in power not to give them the attention they require.

The investigation, moreover, ignores the failings of public retirement homes. But it alerts, in a powerful way, to the dangers of a Europe handed over to “old age profiteers”.