Couple reunited in town nursing home
an ELDERLY Wexford couple separated because of red tape surrounding the 'Fair Deal' nursing home scheme have been reunited at a nursing home in the town following the intervention of the Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the separation of 90-year-old Michael Devereux and his 86-year-old wife Kathleen, who have been married for 63 years, as 'devoid of common sense and humanity'.
Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that he was personally 'very upset' to learn that the couple had been separated as a result of bureacracy 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.
The Taoiseach was commenting following the national outcry over Michael Devereaux, from John's Road, and Kathleen, who have been apart since April when Michael moved into Wygram nursing home in the town and Kathleen went into Wexford General Hospital.
Mr Varadkar said the decision to not to give a nursing home bed to Kathleen was not made for of budgetary reasons, but on a clinical basis but admitted it was the wrong decision.
'It was wrong to separate a very elderly couple in this way, it was inhumane.'
However, Kathleen said had been under pressure to leave her hospital bed and move into a nursing home, but she hadn't been able to because she couldn't afford the €1,000 a week she had been told it would cost.
While her husband had been given a place under the 'Fair Deal Scheme' she said she had been refused the same terms despite appealing against the HSE decision and had instead been offered a few hours a week in home care.
The Taoiseach 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.
Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that Health Minister Simon Harris had since intervened and the couple would be reunited.
However, he said it was a shame it was not resolved before it entered the public domain admitting that 'everyone in government is very upset about it'.
Within hours of the story breaking on radio and in the national local Press, the HSE said it had initiated a review of the Wexford couple's circumstances, and was moving Kathleen into her husband's nursing home which happened soon afterwards.
The couple's son Tom had got a phonecall from the minister, via minister Paul Kehoe, to tell him the HSE had agreed his mother could join his father. Tom said the minister had been 'horrified' at the application of the nursing home legislation in the case of his parents. 'There must be compassion shown in cases where people have been married for a considerable length of time and are elderly,' he said.