French President summons to allow end-of-life visits during Covid-19 confinement

In his TV address of Monday April 13, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the COVID-19 confinement would be extended until May 11.

However, the President specified that “the most vulnerable, the elderly, those with severe disabilities or people with chronic diseases will be asked to remain confined at home for their own safety, even after May 11, at least for a start.”

The President of the Republic called on healthcare establishments to allow flexibility in the visiting rules in favor of people reaching the end of their life. “It’s not only the virus that kills. Extreme loneliness or giving up the resort to treatment of other diseases can also be perilous. I also wish that hospitals and retirement homes will organize visits with the proper measures of protection for families to say their farewells to their sick beloved at the end of their lives.”

Pascal Champvert, the president of the Association of Directors of Services and Establishments for the Elderly (“AD-PA”) said, in an interview on France Info radio, that he had “been heard only partially”.  In accordance with the recommendations by the National Consultative Ethics Committee, he believes that visits should not only be allowed for those at the end-of-life, but also for people who are psychologically affected by this pandemic situation. Organizing such visits seems to be feasible, since residents in nursing homes are confined to their rooms, leaving the common spaces empty. “It is therefore  possible to allow one person from each family to meet with a resident in these spaces, with proper safety measures for social distancing, mask, and hand cleaning.”

Pascal Champvert emphasizes that such meetings are “essential”, as well as allowing residents to go outside for a walk in the establishments’ parks and gardens.

In addition, he insists that “testing is essential to set up a much more adjusted strategy against the virus, not only in health establishments but also at home. The elderly must be tested, and also their families and caregivers. ”

Starting on May 11, town halls will provide masks for the population, while wearing masks “may become compulsory” on public transport and for workers who are most at risk of exposure.

As Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s General Delegate and founder of SOS End-of-life, put it : “It was high time to admit how inhumane it was to impose absolute isolation on dependent elderly people. Whatever our age, social encounters give us reasons to live. And the most vulnerable people are those for whom these social encounters are vital. 7000 residents in “EHPADs” (nursing homes) have already died, often without accompaniment by their kins, it is a tragedy for those who have died, for their caregivers and their loved ones. We now must take into account these mixed feelings of anger and guilt. Let us not think that the many deaths of elderly people are not part of the present humanitarian and health disaster”.

SOS End-of-life service along with its website, both branches of Alliance VITA, has created a dedicated web space to answer questions arising during the coronavirus pandemic to assist those who are sick, isolated or facing the end of their life.

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SOS Fin de vie (SOS End-of-Life) – Tel: 33 (0)1 42 71 32 94 – ecoute@sosfindevie.org
www.sosfindevie.org

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