'Safety not guaranteed': 17 elderly residents evacuated from former care home

'Safety not guaranteed': 17 elderly residents evacuated from former care home
Credit: Belga

On Thursday morning, 17 people were evacuated from a former residential care home in East Flanders during a police raid as part of a judicial investigation.

The residents evacuated from the Alegria Cohousing, formerly a residential care centre named Residentie Beauprez, in Geraardsbergen, were all in need of care but were not getting the care they deserved, according to the town's mayor Guido De Padt.

"It concerns severely care-dependent people whose medical care and safety can no longer be guaranteed on-site. The local government of Geraardsbergen is looking for a new destination for them, together with the families concerned," he told Belga news agency.

The evacuation of the residents was ordered by the public prosecutor as part of the judicial investigation. On Friday, the Federal Judicial Police of East Flanders confirmed the owners of the flats have been arrested and are being questioned, according to VRT News.

Three 14 residents found a new care home on Thursday, while 14 other residents were being cared for overnight in nearby hospitals until new accommodation is found for them in local residential care centres.

Lost permit as care home

Under the Beauprez name, the centre, which had already been blacklisted for two years for not providing adequate care to its residents, did not receive a new permit from the Agency for Care and Health for the 75 assisted living units.

"At the end of last year, we revoked their recognition as an assisted living facility because they did not meet the recognition requirements for such a facility, which results in a closure," Joris Moonens, spokesperson of the Agency for Health and Care, told The Brussels Times.

Among other things, the agency discovered it housed elderly people in need of care for whom the offer of an assisted living facility was not suitable. All residents received an offer to move to other assisted living facilities or residential care centres.

"Another inspection took place a month after the closure to verify that the closure had taken place, which found that there were no people in need of care who were not receiving support from informal carers or who could not live independently," Moonens explained.

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Beauprez' owners decided to transform the building into Alegria Cohousing, offering rentable apartments to both young and old people with different budgets.

However, during the police raid, it was uncovered that some people in need of care lived in the residence, even though it was no longer operating as a residential care home.

'Distressing' situation

De Padt told Radio 1 that he was not aware of the poor conditions the residents were in, as he received no complaints in the past few months regarding the situation in the residence, however, Doctor Ignace Demeyer, who was involved in the evacuation, said the circumstances in the residential care centre were distressing.

"The patients who were there were deprived of their needs, both medically and in terms of care. But since it was no longer a care home, they did not receive the care they needed to live acceptably. You could say that there was neglect."

According to Demeyer, many of the patients were in a state of dementia, and upon the police's arrival, there was no care staff on the scene."If you are old or demented and fall out of a bed or chair, there should be a button to get help. There was nothing like that," he said.

Senior Resort De Kloef, another care home run by the same owners, had also been previously blacklisted, and still is to this day.

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