An elderly couple, who have been married for 63 years, were recently separated when only one place was granted to them in a nursing home to which they both applied. [Updated]
Michael Devereux, 89, and his wife Kathleen, 85, both applied for the home under the Fair Deal scheme in March.
Michael was accepted into the home, but Kathleen’s application was not granted, with the reason given she was independent enough to live outside of a nursing home.
Michael and Kathleen and their son Tom told Joe Duffy on Liveline this afternoon that this was the first time in 60 years that the couple had been separated.
“My father was accepted, and he went into a nursing home at the start of April,” said Tom, who helped the couple complete their applications.
He said that when his mother was not accepted he asked for a review which was also unsuccessful.
"This was despite a letter from her GP saying that she needed long-term care," Tom said.
Michael said he was unable to sleep at night due to Kathleen’s absence.
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."
Under the Fair Deal scheme (Nursing Homes Support Scheme), a person is given financial support to assist them in securing a long-term nursing home position.
The applicant has their medical and financial needs assessed to qualify for the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health announced tonight that Minister for Older People Jim Daly is to meet with Age Action and Nursing Home Ireland tomorrow to discuss nursing home charges and in particular the additional flat rate fee charged by many for services such as social programmes.
Minister Daly said: “Minister for Health Simon Harris and I are committed to ensuring that our older population are protected and get the care that they need and deserve.
“Under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, or “Fair Deal”, the nursing home provider must agree a contract in writing with each resident, on their admission to the nursing home. This contract must include details of the services to be provided to that resident and the fees to be charged.
"Core living expenses are covered under “Fair Deal” but residents can still incur other charges, for things such as social programmes, newspapers or hairdressing. These charges must be set out in the contract and residents should never be charged fees which are not set out in the contract. In recognition of this, anyone in receipt of financial support under Fair Deal retains at least 20% of their income.
“I know that concerns have been expressed about the fact that many private nursing homes are now charging an additional flat rate fee - often billed as a "social charge" – which can apply even if the residents are not able to participate in the activities, or do not wish to. This is an issue which I will discuss in detail tomorrow with Age Action and Nursing Homes Ireland.
"As Minister I want to ensure that all of our older people are protected and have all the information they need to make informed choices.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who has concerns about additional nursing home charges to raise them, in the first instance, with the service provider in question through its complaints procedure. If there are still concerns they can then take their case to the Office of the Ombudsman.”