A NL couple who were married for 7 decades but were separated in long-term care are moving back together
Marilyn Gould says her father couldn’t contain his joy when he received the news he will soon be reunited with his wife of nearly 70 years.
“I was in the car with my phone and the social worker was trying to tell me, and [Dad] hooted and yelled and she was like, ‘Well, I guess I’ll take that for a yes?'” she said.
Gould’s father, Jim Woolfrey, has been separated from his wife Theresa for about a year and a half because of their different levels of care needs.
People just need to keep it alive until this policy is changed so that seniors are not separated in their later years. – Marilyn Gould
The Woolfreys are both 86 years old. He requires Care Level 1 for people who are independently mobile but need some assistance, and she needs Care Level 3 for people who need at least three hours of care over a 24-hour period.
Newfoundland and Labrador is struggling with a shortage of long-term care beds and caregivers. It means that long-term care facilities that offer a higher level of care can’t also accommodate someone like Jim who doesn’t need as much help. So the Woolfreys were forced to live apart.
In February, provincial health minister Tom Osborne announced a review of private and long-term care homes, including the facilities’ inability to accommodate couples with diverse care needs
Earlier in March, Osborne told CBC News that short-term fixes are coming soon. A solution has arrived, at least for the Woolfreys.
“On Friday around 4am Tom Osborne called me and said there will be some changes and dad can come over to mum’s and then on Saturday around noon the head of long-term care called me and said that she had been told this was done had to be done, and then on Tuesday they called and said there’ll be a bed ready in a couple of days,” Gould said.
The Woolfreys aren’t living together yet, but Gould expects they will be by Monday.
She and her family have been pushing for the change for months. They have spoken out on social media about their family’s situation and have agreed to any media requests for interviews.
“I don’t know whose chain we pulled or if it just accumulated over time sending letters and emails, but I think everyone was on the same page that this should never be,” said Gould.
She has advice for other families who are in a similar situation.
“Keep at it. Keep going. Wherever you go, keep trying. Never give up,” Gould said
“We’ve been at this for a year and a half and there were points where we said, ‘This isn’t going to happen,’ but people just have to keep it alive until this policy is changed so that seniors aren’t separated in their later years .”
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