Minister Simon Harris confirms that seperated elderly couple will be reunited

Minister Simon Harris confirms that seperated elderly couple will be reunited

Update 16:43pm:Minister Simon Harris has confirmed that an elderly couple who have been married for 63 years will be reunited.

Michael Devereaux, who will be 91 next month, and his wife Kathleen, 85, were seperated when Michael secured a nursing home bed and Kathleen did not.

The Minister for Health has since contacted the elderly couple's son Tom to inform him of the good news that his parents would be reunited as soon as possible.

Tom Devereaux received the call just after 1pm today and told Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline that his parents would be "much happier now."

He said that his mother was "very down" today after the trauma of yesterday but that "she is so so happy with the good news."

Arrangements are currently being made through the HSE's transitional care team to facilitate Mrs Devereaux's transfer to her husband's nursing home as soon as possible.

"They [the HSE] confirmed what Minister Harris had already told me," said Mr Devereaux.

He said that Minister Harris was "horrified at the application of the legislation" in his parents case.

"There must be compassion shown in cases where people have been married for a considerable time and are elderly," he said.

Director of the nursing home in which the Devereaux's will be reunited, Audrey Molony, said that Kathleen had been on their waiting list "for a while now."

She explained that a pre-admission assesment would be carried out on Kathleen as soon as possible.

"It's the first stage of getting to know that resident and where the care planning process begins," she said.

Update 3.10pm: The Taoiseach has described the separation of an elderly couple who have been married for 63 years as "devoid of common sense and devoid of humanity", writes political correspondent Elaine Loughlin.

Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that he was "personally very upset" to learn that the couple had been separated as a result of red tape governing the Fair Deal nursing home scheme.

He said the rules now need to be reviewed to determine whether changes are required to make sure no other elderly couples are separated.

It comes after Michael Devereaux, from Co Wexford, who will be 91 next month, and his wife Kathleen, 85, were left heartbroken after Michael secured a nursing home bed, but Kathleen did not.

Their son Tom was forced to go on RTE’s Liveline show to plead on behalf his parents.

Mr Varadkar said decision to not to give a nursing home bed to Kathleen was not made for of budgetary reasons but on a clinical basis but he said: "It was the wrong decision, it was wrong to separate a very elderly couple in this way, it was inhumane."

He said no elderly couple should be separated.

The Taosieach said it may well be the case that the decision makers in the case followed the letter of the rule, but if that was the case then the rules should be changed.

Under questioning from both Sinn Féin and the Labour party, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that Health Minister Simon Harris had since intervened and the couple would be reunited.

However added that it was a shame it was not resolved before it entered the public domain admitting that "everyone in Government is very upset about it".

Update 13:50pm: The HSE says it will reunite an elderly couple as soon as possible, after the pair were separated by not being housed in the same nursing home.

In a statement, the HSE says it has initiated a review of the Wexford couple’s circumstances, but will move Mrs Devereaux into her husband’s nursing home in the meantime.

Earlier:The HSE has been told to resolve a heart-breaking situation in which an elderly couple have been separated after 63 years of marriage.

Michael Devereaux, 90, is living in a nursing home in Wexford, where he was accepted under the Fair Deal support scheme. His wife, Kathleen, who is 86, was turned down for a place in the same home.

Yesterday, in a highly emotional interview, Michael told Joe Duffy’s Liveline that he felt like his "head was about to burst" and that he was unable to sleep due to the separation.

He said: "I can’t sleep at night even. I’m waking at three o’clock, maybe at four o’clock every morning, and what do I do? I pray first of all, and then I cry.

“The fact is we just love each other...It’s a nightmare for me. And it’s a nightmare, I’m sure, for my lovely wife."

In a statement released to Mornin gIreland today, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he had instructed the HSE to resolve the issue "with compassion".

He said he had instructed the HSE to address the Devereaux’s special circumstances, with compassion being absolutely paramount, saying he expects to receive an update later today and "is very clear that this must be resolved."

Meanwhile, nursing home charges will be discussed at a meeting between the Minister for Older people, Age Action and Nursing Home Ireland later.

There will be particular focus on the extra fees charged by many providers for social programmes, which can typically amount to €70 a week.

While core expenses are covered for those in the Fair Deal scheme, residents can incur charges for social schemes, newspapers and hairdressing.

Minister Jim Daly said such extras must be set out in the contract, and that residents should never be charged for items they have not agreed to pay for.

Under the Fair Deal scheme, older people are to retain at least 20% of their income, with the rest going to pay for their care.


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