Orpea is letting go but not giving in on all fronts. The group of retirement homes has announced that it has undertaken to pay 25.7 million euros out of the 55.8 million claimed by the State. “Orpea will reimburse to the nearest euro public grants that have not been regularly requested, paid or used”, underlines the new general manager of the group, Laurent Guillot, in a press release published on Tuesday.
“This is an essential step for the refoundation of Orpea”, continues the one who arrived at the helm of the group in July. Orpea has been in turmoil since the book “Les Fossoyeurs” published in January denounced the group’s management leading to the mistreatment of residents in its retirement homes.
The government decided to take legal action in March after the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) and the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas) revealed “significant dysfunctions” in the management of these houses as well as “practices alleged irregularities” in the use of public funds.
At the beginning of August, the group revealed that the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (CNSA), pilot of policies to support the autonomy of the elderly, had put it on notice to return 55.8 million euros of public funding considered to be unduly received.
The group managing some 350 establishments in France then undertook to reimburse “the sums whose allocation was inadequate”. He also promised “to provide his answers” for the amounts “which are the subject of divergence of appreciation”.
Return of kickbacks
This Tuesday, the group of retirement homes specifies that the 25.7 million euros identified correspond in particular to the end-of-year discounts received from its suppliers.
The book “Les Fossoyeurs” highlighted the fact that the group received significant end-of-year discounts from its suppliers. And this, while the purchases made from the latter were financed by the public sector.
Splashed by the book which explained that the suppliers put under financial pressure by Orpea to pay these discounts, could decrease the quality of equipment as crucial as the diapers, the group had waived these retrocommissions in March.
Debate on carers
On the other hand, “concerning the personnel costs linked to life auxiliaries acting as caregivers, Orpea recalls that this is a general practice in private and public nursing homes”. In other words, there is no question of paying the additional 30 million claimed and reimbursing the public grants used to finance carers, when these people have carried out care missions with residents of nursing homes.
The use of these unqualified auxiliaries as caregivers is “essential to ensure the quality of care in a general context of shortage of caregivers”, argues Orpea. The group does not hesitate to point out that the supervisory authorities, “with very rare exceptions”, did not pinpoint this practice when they dissected the accounts of the establishments.
The group is also announcing a recruitment program of 550 people per month until the end of 2022, and 800 per month from 2023. It is also committed to deploying a training program and developing apprenticeship .