HSE to reunite elderly couple housed in separate nursing homes

Health Minister Simon Harris says "it is a shame it had to happen this way"

HSE to reunite elderly couple housed in separate nursing homes

Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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.

Michael and Kathleen Devereaux, both in their 80s, rang RTE’s Liveline yesterday, distraught at having been separated after 63 years.

Mr Devereaux (89) said: "It’s a nightmare for me. And it’s a nightmare, I’m sure, for my lovely wife."

The situation arose after they applied for the Fair Deal scheme, which sees those needing care paying a contribution for the care while the State pays the balance. 

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.

Speaking today, Health Minister Simon Harris says the circumstances of what happened are not ideal, but the result is welcome.

He said: "I think quite frankly it is a shame it had to happen this way. I don't think anybody should have to ring a national radio station to highlight this issue.

"I am pleased that the HSE, once this issue was brought to their attention at a national level, did move swiftly to resolve this."

He added that the Fair Deal scheme is being reviewed.

Minister for Older People Jim Daly, meanwhile, described it as "heart-rending story".

He explained: "The HSE has assured both myself and Minister Harris that they will address the issue immediately [...] I am satisfied that they are doing everything.

"There's obviously a number of issues that could be at play here that we're not aware of. We need to get the full facts of it."

Earlier, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin - Sinn Féin spokesperson for older people - argued: "This case is an example of the lack of compassion that exists in terms of care of our older people in Ireland and it is simply dreadful, but let us not think that this is an isolated case.

"There are many others like it and it is time that the physical and emotional needs of our older people are taken into consideration."