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French care home staffing levels are ‘nowhere near’ adequate

A care worker in France shares her experience and responds to the care home abuse story

Care worker helping an older women get up from a chair

One reader thinks unqualified care workers can do more harm than good Pic: / Shutterstock

I am an anglophone aide-soignante (care worker) living in France, and am obviously following allegations of mistreatment of patients by staff at the care home group Orpéa with interest.

Read more: Inquiries open after claims of food rationing at care homes in France

It is claimed that the ratio in France is 60 staff to 100 residents, including admin,maintenance and kitchen staff, as well as healthcare workers like psychologists or nutritionists who come 

in perhaps once or twice a week. Of these 60 employees, it is claimed that about 30 provide bedside care.

This is theoretically accurate, but not in terms of daily care. There are usually two teams of aides-soignants – one team working while the other is off duty. 

Where I worked until recently, we officially had 20 soignants for just over 100 residents, but only 10 were on duty at any one time. And rarely the full 10 – on one occasion, there were only seven. 

Add to these, let’s say, nine soignants, there are two nurses on active bedside duty a day. 

Throw in the kitchen and cleaning staff and we are still nowhere near 30.

Another point is that although aides-soignants are supposed to have a diploma, we regularly worked with people who had no experience at all and no relevant qualification. They work out cheaper for the care home – qualified staff have to be paid more.

Hiring someone like this allows the care home to claim it is fully staffed, but the truth is that inexperienced workers can do more harm than good and slow down the experienced and qualified staff.

I thought I would underline these facts to show that statistics do not always paint the full picture.

Janet Frazer, Ardèche

Share your views - Let off steam or share a point of view on an aspect of French life


Please include your name and department of France or country where you live. Letters used may be edited for space and sense; the Editor’s decision is final. Letters received may be used online and/or in print.


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