Senior judge condemns practice of separating elderly couples
Thousands of older couples are being separated in order to have their care needs met – a situation a senior British judge has branded as ‘absolutely shocking’.
Recent reports have found that many elderly couples who require additional care and support are being separated against their wishes – a practice condemned as ‘inhumane’ by High Court judge, Sir James Munby.
According to Sir James, couples who have been together for decades are often refused shared accommodation and instead are split up into different care homes, or face a situation where one partner is housed in residential care, while the other remains at home alone.
This separation can have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of the couples involved, causing trauma and exacerbating feelings of loneliness (already a common problem in Britain’s elderly population), as well as having a knock-on effect on people’s physical health.
In a speech to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Sir James said,
“We do know that people die of a broken heart. I have read of cases where one person died and then the other dies a couple of days later. How long do people last if they are uprooted? A very short time.”
He also branded the practice of separating couples as “a profound indictment of our society”, and suggested that forcing frail and elderly people to leave their homes and their partner is not always the best course of action as it can have a substantial negative impact their happiness.
In light of this, Sir James believes that alternative options should be explored and has urged social workers to do all they can to enable couples to remain together in later life.
Live in care
In order to avoid separation and being forced to leave their homes, many older couples are turning to live in care as a potential solution. A live in carer is an around-the-clock carer who lives in the client’s home and provides a package of personal care and household management services based on a personalised care plan.
By hiring a live in carer, couples are able to stay together in their own home whilst receiving a level of care and support that is tailored to their individual needs. Furthermore, hiring a carer to look after a couple can bring significant savings when compared to the costs of two separate residential care places.
As well as helping couples to stay together, live in care also offers a number of other benefits. By the very nature of the role, a live in carer is on hand 24/7 to offer one-to-one care and support. This, unsurprisingly, has a positive impact on health and safety, with clients suffering a third fewer falls than those in residential care. Live in care also enables older people to hold on to their much valued independence and continue with their daily routine. Clients also benefit from remaining in familiar surroundings, something that’s particularly beneficial for people suffering from dementia.
If you and your partner are looking for an alternative care solution, your local authority or social services should be able to offer help finding a live in carer, enabling you to remain safe, independent and, most importantly, together in your own home.