A front page article, “Keeping couples apart ‘cruel’” is sad for the family and an unnecessary situation.
The desire for Mr. and Mrs. McCabe to spend their last years together is not unique. Nor is it the first time that the spouse of a veteran placed in the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital been denied the right to be together.
In June 2018 Bryce and Hazel Gibson from Halifax, who had been married for75 years, were separated when he went to Camp Hill and she to another long-term care facility.
Forceful breakups of long-standing marriages is such an epidemic in that October 2016 the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia introduced a bill guaranteeing couples could stay together in long-term care homes. Former party leader Jamie Baillie told the CBC he had been approached by a family about a situation where only one spouse could stay in a federal facility. Sound familiar?
At the time former Health Minister Leo Glavine, who had dealt with five similar cases, said, “When the day comes for [the couple] to go into a nursing home in Nova Scotia, they will go as a couple.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the issue would be addressed in a continuing care strategy. That was 33 months ago. Where’s the strategy?
What is so confusing is the federal government, through Veterans Affairs, allows the Nova Scotia Health Authority to use discretion to fill the empty beds at Camp Hill. Year-after-year Camp Hill consistently has empty beds. So the impediment to keeping elderly couples together is the NSHA.
Over and over again, Nova Scotia’s aging population is highlighted as the root cause of the problems faced by government and health care. For all those excuses we don’t hear solutions. Government and the NSHA have had time to factor that aging population into all their decisions. They haven’t.
Separating elderly couples is not a new or unique issue. This has been an on-going issue since 2015. How long does it take the NSHA and Department of Health to address a problem?
This is the failure of health bureaucrats and executives to anticipate and act.