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HSE confirms elderly couple will be reunited after Liveline intervention

The couple was separated after 63 years of marriage when only one of them was granted a place in a nursing home.

Michael and Kathleen Devereaux.
Michael and Kathleen Devereaux.
Image: RTE Liveline

Updated 3.30pm

THE HSE has said “arrangements are being made” to facilitate the transfer of the woman who was separated from her husband under the Fair Deal scheme.

The case was highlighted by Joe Duffy on Liveline yesterday and has since been a huge discussion topic across the country, including in the Dáil chamber.

In a statement today, the HSE confirmed a review of Kathleen Devereaux’s care needs will be done as quickly as possible in the coming days. It is currently liaising directly with the Deveraux family.

A spokesperson said its Social Care Division became aware of the circumstances of the Deveraux family through RTE One’s radio coverage yesterday.

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

The review will take account of an updated clinical assessment as well as the provisions of the statutory Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS).
In the meantime, arrangements are being made, through the HSE’s transitional care service, to facilitate Mrs. Devereaux’s transfer today to her husband’s nursing home.

Michael (89) and his wife Kathleen (85) Devereaux - who have been married for 63 years – both applied under the Fair Deal scheme for a place in a nursing home in March but only Michael was accepted.

The distraught husband contacted Liveline yesterday and broke down in tears as he described the pain of being away from his wife.

‘A decision devoid of humanity’

During Leaders’ Questions today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it shouldn’t have happened and something he is very upset about.

“It was a decision devoid of common sense and devoid of humanity,” he said.

He added that he is pleased Minister Simon Harris moved swiftly to resolve the issue and that the review has been initiated.

He told the Chamber that this is not the kind of decision-making he wants in this State.

The Taoiseach went on to say he is ashamed that the issue was not resolved before it was put into the public domain.

Earlier today, Harris issued a statement instructing the HSE to resolve the case which resulted in a married couple of 63 years being separated from each other.

His department said: “Minister Harris was very concerned to hear of situation regarding this couple. He has instructed the HSE to seek to resolve the situation and address the special circumstances with compassion being absolutely paramount.”

Speaking on Liveline this afternoon, the couple’s son Tom said that he received a phone call from Harris just after 1pm today, in which he confirmed that his mother will be reunited with her husband in the nursing home.

“She is so, so happy with the good news,” Tom said.

Fair Deal –  also known as the Nursing Homes Support Scheme – gives financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care. Under the scheme, a person applies for support and has their medical and financial needs assessed.

Tom said that he had assisted his parents when they applied for the Fair Deal scheme in March.

He said that after his mother was rejected he had put in an appeal, but the review panel had determined she was capable of living independently.

HSE proceedings

In a statement today, a spokesperson for the HSE said that the health service attempted to work to support people in their own homes for as long as possible. The spokesperson laid out the assessment process for determining if a person needed long-term residential care.

“A person’s care needs may change during this process e.g. following admission to hospital, and any change in circumstances will be taken account of to ensure the person receives the appropriate support,” the spokesperson said.

With reporting by Cormac Fitzgerald, Christina Finn & Garreth McNamee

Read: Brendan Courtney’s dad passes away months after documentary on care for the elderly >

Read: ‘A Fair Deal it may be, a cheap deal it sure isn’t’ – the trauma of putting a relative into care >

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