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The right to a “private and family life” was hampered during the Covid-19, judges the Defender of Rights

The right to ” private and family life “ was more hampered during the health crisis for nursing home residents than for the rest of the population, denounces this Tuesday, May 4 the Defender of Rights Claire Hédon in a report which makes some sixty recommendations to guarantee their ” freedom “.

FOLDER. The confined drama of nursing homes

Over the past six years, 900 complaints denouncing the conditions and modalities of medico-social support for the elderly have been addressed to this independent administrative authority, 80% of which involved an nursing home.

However, referrals and testimonies have increased in recent months due to the pandemic linked to Covid-19, denouncing in particular “An increase, on the part of the management of establishments, of violations of the residents’ freedom to come and go as well as of their right to maintain family ties”, is it indicated.

Restrictions, prohibitions

Carrying out screening tests without consent, maintaining exit restrictions during periods of deconfinement, prohibiting local outings, visits from relatives or family caregivers for several weeks, impossibility for families to see their deceased loved one because immediately in beer, maintenance of exit bans for vaccinated residents … Many examples are cited.

“The examination of these complaints shows, on a recurring basis, violations of fundamental rights, respect for the dignity and integrity of the people received”, underlines the Defender of rights. “The right to private and family life was therefore greatly hampered during the health crisis, and in a much more important way for people residing in nursing homes than for the rest of the population”.

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“The health crisis has highlighted the difficulties for public authorities in reconciling public health issues with the need for an appropriate response to the specific needs of elderly people in nursing homes in order to preserve not only their health, but also their rights and freedoms ”, continues the Defender, regretting a “Difficult to access and read” standards in force established by the government.

“The restrictions, which can be seriously detrimental to freedom, cannot be left to the sole discretion of the management of nursing home. They must be subject to strict supervision on the basis of equality for the entire population ”, further considers the institution.

64 recommendations

Among the 64 recommendations of the report is the systematic appointment of a “Consent referent”, fixing a “Minimum ratio of staff working in nursing homes” established at 0.8 full-time staff (FTE) per resident, or to ensure that decisions related to strengthening health measures are “Proportionate” and taken “For a fixed period”.

A “Light protocol” was sent to the directors of nursing homes in March to take into account in particular the rise of vaccination among residents and staff, the Minister responsible for Autonomy Brigitte Bourguignon reminded the press on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the meeting of questions to the government in the National Assembly.

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But, “It is clear that many do not respect this protocol or at least still take too many restrictive measures in terms of visitation rights or the right of exit”, she admitted, indicating that the “Decision to lighten the measures” was going to be called back. Brigitte Bourguignon nevertheless stressed that one should not do “Ehpad bashing”, greeting the ” efforts “ staff since the start of the pandemic.

In a statement, the AD-PA, an association of directors of institutions for the elderly, asked for a “Rewrite” of the protocol for “Break with the restrictive measures derogating from common law pointed out by the Defender of Rights”.

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