Couple split up over nursing home applications to be reunited

Simon Harris urges HSE to resolve problem after husband and wife of 63 years ‘separated’

Tom and Kathleen Devereux spoke to ‘Liveline’ after Kathleen was prevented from joining her husband in his nursing home. Photograph: Liveline

Tom and Kathleen Devereux spoke to ‘Liveline’ after Kathleen was prevented from joining her husband in his nursing home. Photograph: Liveline


An elderly couple who were split up for the first time in 63 years after the man was admitted to a nursing home while his wife was rejected under a State scheme are to be reunited today.

Kathleen (86) and Michael (90) Devereux applied as a couple for the Fair Deal scheme, which means they would pay a contribution towards a private nursing home, with the balance being paid by the State.

Mr Devereux was accepted, but his wife’s application for the care scheme was rejected.

Mr Devereux broke down on radio on Monday as he told the story on RTÉ’s Liveline .

“We’ve been separated for the first time in our lives after 63 long years of marriage,” he said.

“I can’t explain it. I feel as if my head is going to burst.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said on Tuesday morning he had instructed the Health Service Executive to “seek to resolve” the issue “with compassion”.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the HSE said its social care division became aware of the circumstances of the Devereux family through the radio coverage on Monday.

“Following this, the National Director for Social Care immediately initiated a review of Mrs Devereux’s care needs and the totality of her circumstances,” the HSE said.

“ This review has commenced and will be undertaken as quickly as possible in the coming days.

“The review will take account of an updated clinical assessment as well as the provisions of the Nursing Home Support Scheme (the Fair Deal scheme).

“In the meantime, arrangements are being made through the HSE’s transitional care service, to facilitate Mrs Devereux’s transfer today to her husband’s nursing home. The HSE is liaising directly with the Devereaux family in this regard.”

A spokesman for Mr Harris said he was pleased that the situation had now been addressed by the HSE “with compassion and recognition for the family’s circumstances” He looked forward to seeing Mr and Mrs Devereux reunited.

The operator of the Wygram nursing home in Wexford where Mr Devereux is living told Liveline on Tuesday she was looking forward to welcoming Mrs Devereux and that she would arrange a pre-admission assessment as soon as possible.

“Michael and Kathleen will hopefully have many years of happiness together,” Audrey Molony said.

The couple’s son Tom told the programme Mr Harris had informed them via local TD Paul Kehoe there were moves afoot to “better” the process.

“The HSE have confirmed that my mother can go and join her husband in the nursing home...It will be as soon as possible. I assume two or three days, but the main thing is they’ll be reunited,” he said.

“My mother is very down after yesterday, but this has lifted her spirits.”

The HSE said it provided a range of services for older people and endeavoured to assist all those who were in need of care and support.

“This includes supporting the expressed wish of older people to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible with long term residential care being an option as required.”

About 23,000 people are in long-term residential care under the Fair Deal scheme at any given time.

To avail of this scheme a person undergoes both a ‘care needs’ assessment and a financial assessment.

The care needs assessment determines if they require long term residential c“Any change in circumstances will be taken account of to ensure the person reare or if they can continue to live at home with additional support.

The HSE said a person’s care needs may change during this process, such as following admission to hospital.

ceives the appropriate care and support they need.”