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Elderly and disabled people: sharp increase in reports of mistreatment – France

The 3977 telephone line, dedicated to the fight against mistreatment of elderly or disabled adults, experienced a 28% jump in calls in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, we learned from the federation operating this number.

This increase could be explained by a “catching up” after periods of confinement synonymous with difficulties in reporting dysfunctions. “There was a deficit of calls in 2020 during confinement, in part because our usual callers, that is to say especially the families, were not mobilized: they could not access the inside retirement homes, ”Pierre Czernichow, president of the federation in charge of this helpline created in 2012 and funded by the public authorities, told AFP on Wednesday.

Another possible explanation is that the distress of nursing home residents, due to the restrictions imposed on them during confinement and even after, was not necessarily perceived as mistreatment, analyzes Pierre Czernichow.

Concretely, in the first half of 2021, the 3977 service opened 948 files on possible mistreatment – whether physical or psychological -, an increase of 28% compared to the first half of 2020. In 2020, compared to 2019, the increase had been 3%.

“Alerts are a drop in the sea”

In retirement homes or establishments for disabled adults, the dysfunctions reported most often stem from “negligence, responses deemed insufficient, and most of the time completely involuntary”, on the part of exhausted caregivers and not enough numerous, notes Pierre Czernichow.

But three quarters of the calls concern mistreatment that occurs in the homes of the adults concerned: it can be the work of professionals working in their homes, or members of their entourage or their family.

Whatever the figures, “the alerts we receive are a drop in the sea, a very small part of reality,” insists the head of the crisis line. However, “not to speak about it, it is the surest way that it is reiterated”.

For this specialist in public health, “there is certainly a collective awareness of this problem, but much remains to be done”, in particular to fight against the preconceived idea according to which this phenomenon “is a matter of intimacy and does not concern the society “.