Elderly in squalid homes

A number of private retirement homes in Athens house their residents in horrendous conditions, offering cockroach-infested rooms and filthy sleeping quarters, according to the results of a sample review released yesterday. An inspection committee from the prefect of Athens last week visited 11 old persons’ homes in the capital’s broader area and found that only two were not guilty of infringing health regulations. Most of them did not adhere to proper hygiene standards and stored food in unsuitable conditions, according to the inspectors. The committee encountered dirty walls, wet mattresses and filthy toilets as they performed their checks. «We found that on many occasions the old people live in horrible conditions. It is clear that homes – especially the illegal ones – are supplied with the cheapest and lowest quality food products without any interest in the health of their residents,» said Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros. It is the second incident this summer that unveils the health risks elderly citizens are exposed to due to poor conditions at such institutions. In June, the death of five female residents at a retirement home in Kypseli, Athens, coincided with the outbreak of gastroenteritis at the institution, although only one of the deaths could be attributed to listeria from rotten meat. Other infringements uncovered by inspectors last week included the storage of food that had expired, while other items that were heading for the plates of the residents did not even have an expiry date. A number of retirement homes did not have a commercial refrigerator with a thermometer on their premises, as specified by law, for the proper storage of food items. «Unfortunately, based on current law, the largest fine we can impose is between 15,000 and 65,000 euros depending on the infringement, while the maximum jail sentence is for a year and this can be bought out,» added Sgouros. Four retirement homes were found to be operating without a proper license while legal action is already underway against four other institutions.