French care homes face ethical crisis over life or death issues as virus takes its toll


The type of healthcare to be administered and the rules surrounding the physical and chemical restraint of some residents in France's care homes have been been urgently reviewed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting anger from some carers. They fear many residents who do not get the virus could suffer as a result, and that some who do could die “painful deaths” because of administrative delays, or be affected by a growing shortage of medicines. There is dismay, too, that these establishment are once again being treated as the poor relation in France's social and healthcare system. According to the government's incomplete figures some 2,189 deaths “linked to Covid” have occurred in the country's nursing homes since March 1st. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

“It was brutal,” said 'Carine', a care home nurse from near Paris. Just a week ago she had told Mediapart about the measures put in place to deal with residents who might catch Covid-19 at the nursing home in the Hauts-de-Seine département or county west of the French capital where she works. Fast forward seven days and she now finds herself in the front line of the epidemic.