'Christmas is over for us now': Elderly couple forced apart in N.B.
Just a week before Christmas, an elderly New Brunswick couple has been forced into separate long-term care facilities.
“My parents have been together for a total of 73 years and still sleep in the same bed,” their daughter Dianne Goodine Phillips posted on Facebook a day before her parents were unceremoniously divided. “I feel people need to know what a flawed system we have in place. Two words describe it: unethical and cruel.”
Until Monday, Herbert and Audrey Goodine had been living together for the past four years at a special care home in the village of Perth-Andover, N.B. The couple, who are 91 and 89 respectively, have been married for 69 years. But with Herbert’s health deteriorating, their family was told on Friday by N.B’s Department of Social Development -- which oversees the province’s long-term care facilities -- that Herbert would have to be moved to a nursing home.
According to their daughter’s emotional Facebook post, the couple was given three options: two of which would have seen them stay together at nursing homes more than two hours away from their friends and family; and, a third option in which Herbert would be moved alone to a facility some 30 minutes away in Plaster Rock, N.B.
Their daughter, however, simply wanted a fourth option -- and that was to extend her father’s residency in Perth-Andover until after Christmas. Told that she would have to make the difficult decision that very same Friday, she hesitated. According to her, a Department of Social Development representative then approached her parents and forced them to choose.
On Monday morning, Herbert was moved to the nursing home in Plaster Rock.
“When talking to my parents yesterday I listened to my mother weep and I could hear my father in the background,” Dianne wrote on Sunday. “My mother said ‘Christmas is over for us now and this is the worst Christmas that we will ever have. Why could they not have waited till after the holidays?’ I assured her that I tried everything to keep them together a few more days.”
To date, Dianne’s heart-wrenching Facebook post has been shared more than 11,000 times.
In a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca, a Department of Social Development spokesperson explained that “individuals who require a higher level of care than what can be provided in special care homes are moved to where their needs can be more appropriately met.”
“We certainly understand that this difficult situation has affected this couple and their family,” the spokesperson said. “While we are unable to discuss the details of individual cases, we always work with the residents and their families to provide the appropriate level of care for those who require it.”
“Once a resident is beyond our level and Social Development has reassessed to determine their level, I have to follow the rules and regulations set by the government,” the Perth-Andover home added in a Facebook post Monday. “I would hope that anyone who is passing judgement on any situation in any home would get all facts before spewing nonsense.”
But to the Goodines’ daughter, the refusal to allow her parents to be together for Christmas is what’s truly nonsensical here.
“My request during the day Friday was to simply extend my father's residency until the end of this week,” she wrote. “However, my repeated request was ignored.”
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston