Friday 15 December 2017

Wife to get place in husband's care home amid fury

Michael and Kathleen Devereaux
Michael and Kathleen Devereaux

John Downing and Ian Begley

An elderly couple separated for the first time in their 63-year marriage after one was refused a place in a nursing home are to be reunited after their heartbreak sparked a national outrage.

A backlash at the decision by health chiefs to keep Michael Devereaux (90), from Wexford, and his wife Kathleen (85) apart went all the way to the Taoiseach.

Leo Varadkar said it was "inhumane" and promised an investigation to find out how many more elderly couples had been put through the same ordeal.

The couple had applied for accommodation in a nursing home under Ireland's Fair Deal scheme.

Mr Devereaux was accepted into a home in Wexford and taken in since early April. But despite her GP saying she needed long-term care as well, his wife was refused a place. She faced living on her own for the first time after spending the past few months in hospital.

Their plight came to light after they went on RTÉ Radio's 'Liveline' phone-in.

In an emotional interview, Mr Devereaux said: "I can't sleep at night and wake at four o'clock in the morning and I pray and then I cry.

"We've been separated for the first time in our lives after 63 years of marriage."

Mr Devereaux added "we just love each other".

Questioned about the couple's devastation by Opposition leaders, Mr Varadkar said he was "personally very upset" on hearing about it.

The decision to refuse Mrs Devereaux a place in the home with her husband was overturned after intervention by the Government.

The HSE said its social care division only "became aware of the circumstances" of the couple through the radio coverage. It ordered a review of Mrs Devereaux's needs and "the totality of her circumstances".

A spokesman for Health Minister Simon Harris said he was pleased the situation had now been addressed "with compassion and recognition for the family's circumstances".

Irish Independent

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