17 in need of care were evacuated from their retirement home in Belgium to be hospitalized, and the couple who manages the premises were arrested, the East Flanders prosecutor’s office announced on Friday. These evacuations by the police took place Thursday in Grammont in two neighboring “serviced residences”. These are establishments supposed to accommodate independent seniors, but whose 17 occupants (fifteen in one, two in the other) were in fact in a situation of dependency prohibiting such an accommodation solution.
“As these people need additional care, they must be accommodated in a suitable and recognized institution,” explained the prosecution in a press release. Initially, the 17 evacuees were replaced in hospitals in the region to receive treatment.
These two residences are used by the same couple, a 49-year-old man and his 37-year-old wife. Both were arrested on Thursday and were to be presented by Friday evening to an investigating judge in Oudenaarde, added to the prosecution, without specifying the suspected offenses.
The aftermath of the Orpea scandal
One of the two sites, the Beauprez residence, had its approval permanently withdrawn by the supervisory authority in June 2021 and was in the process of conversion to “a cohabitation project”, still according to the same source. This is where the 15 evacuations took place because the residents “are not autonomous” and the care provided “clearly insufficient”. According to the Flemish Care and Health Agency, the supervisory authority, 16 of the 69 residents of Beauprez had chosen to stay after the withdrawal of approval last summer. These people “did not need care or stayed at the explicit request of their family who supported them with informal care”, argued a spokesperson.
The investigation by the Flemish public prosecutor’s office comes against the background of heightened vigilance by the Belgian authorities after the shocking revelations of the book-investigation published in France on the mistreatment suffered by residents of nursing homes of the Orpea group. Orpea is present in some twenty countries, including Belgium, where it operates 80 establishments (nursing homes, rest and care homes, assisted living facilities). The revelations of the book “Les Fossoyeurs” have prompted the Belgian authorities to carry out a series of unannounced inspections for a week and several Orpea sites are under close surveillance.