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Towards a stop to wearing a mask in nursing homes?

After the AD-PA which represents the directors and the Avec group, a global health operator dedicated to seniors, it is the turn of the French Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SFGG) to campaign for the cessation of wearing a mask in establishments for the elderly.

More freedom. Fewer masks. Fewer controls and fewer restrictive measures. Fewer inequalities, more considerations for residents in EHPAD: here is in essence the request of geriatricians and gerontologists on the eve of the summer period.

Age again comes into play as the basis of inequality» explains Dr. Sophie Moulias, geriatrician at Ambroise Paré Hospital and specialist in ethical issues. By wanting to protect residents in nursing homes too much, we take away their quality of life, even life itself. However, it should be known that when the fragility extends, the relational need extends. When relationships die out, the person is confronted even more with himself. That by wanting to do too much, we increase the isolation of EHPAD residents with a significant risk of social death. We must never lose sight of the idea that health is a global good of which the relationship with others is an integral part and that relational deprivation has dramatic consequences.“.

The SFGG recalls the major consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic on residents in nursing homes. Several surveys, in particular the ENCOPAD-IPCE study conducted in 2020 by Pr Sylvie Bonin-Guillaume, geriatrician at the Marseille University Hospital and Dr Anne-Julie Vaillant-Ciszewicz, psychologist, have highlighted an increase in sadness, anxiety and signs of anorexia among residents during this period.

“To want to protect them too much, we take away their lives. There is too big of a gap with what happens in everyday life,” explains Professor Nathalie Salles, President of the French Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SFGG) and head of the geriatrics department at Bordeaux University Hospital. for France3.

It must be said that as his predecessor Olivier Guérin pointed out in the midst of a pandemic (December 2020), this virus is “clearly geriatric” with “nearly 30% Covid-19 mortality in the population over 75 with polypathology”.

More than two years after the appearance of the Covid-19 virus and with the arrival of summer, almost no one wears a mask anymore except in hospitals and nursing homes. “At the moment, in nursing homes, residents are spaced 2-3 meters apart in front of masked caregivers or are themselves masked”. The specialist draws a parallel with a metro or a tram where one could find elderly people, without masks, every day.

Update outdated recommendations

The latest recommendations issued for “Establishments and services welcoming the elderly and people with disabilities” by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health date from April 6, 2022. Thus, the SFGG asks for their update :

In particular, it is a question of no longer requiring the wearing of a mask in establishments and medico-social services welcoming the elderly (except at the time of treatment), of stopping systematic checks and screenings and of making the tours and entertainment“. “Today there is too great a disparity in the application of the rules in EHPADs in France. The precautionary principle no longer applies“.

Indeed, summer is a time when the risk associated with the virus is much lower.

It is intolerable to still see residents and families so constrained. It is therefore high time to lift these restrictions in all EHPADs so that residents and their families can also enjoy the summer festivities as best as possible, especially in this population particularly well protected by vaccination.“.

For AD-PA, establishments for the elderly are the safest places in France from the point of view of the Coronavirus since 100% of staff are vaccinated and all residents who wish to do so, i.e. near 90% of them had the 3rd or even the 4th dose.

The AD-PA and AVEC recall that the elderly, even if they are vulnerable, must be considered as full citizens.
The hyper-safety and health logics of the State must give way to the citizenship and freedom of our elders.

The Ministry must therefore, as a matter of urgency, modify the recommendations to ensure that the wearing of a mask is no longer compulsory in all establishments.

In addition, requesting verification of health passes requires in many establishments that visits take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., hours when an employee is present at reception.

This device which reduces the right of visit of residents and families must also be removed.

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