Ont. couple forced to live apart after 45 years together
Published Saturday, June 24, 2017 2:53PM EDT
An Ottawa-area couple who have been together 45 years have been forced to live in separate care homes, and it’s not the first time that’s happened in their community.
Jim Scharf, an 85-year-old retired police officer, and his wife Joan Scharf, were placed in separate care homes after Joan had a stroke last June.
Joan went to live in a long-term care home in Merrickville, Ont. called Hilltop Manor, about 20 kilometres by car from Jim’s home at Bayfield Manor in Kemptville.
The Bayfield Manor is capable of caring for Joan, but she is sitting on a waiting list.
Jim says that not having his wife by his side has left a void and created anxiety.
“It’s hard, very hard,” he said. “I would be waking up in the evening and looking for my wife or think she was calling me about something,” he added.
Dan Scharf, the couple’s son, says the separation is also affecting his mother’s mental health, and that his parents “need to be together.”
“The system just doesn't account for people needing different levels of care being reunited,” he adds. “There's no process for that."
The Scharfs' separation is reminiscent of the story of Joan and Ken Burnett. The couple, who had been together more than six decades, were forced to live in care homes 45 minutes apart, because there was not enough room in Bayfield Manor.
At the time, Jennifer Schenkel, director of communications for the Champlain Community Care Access Centre, told CTV News in a written statement that “private residence location does not influence placement prioritization into regulated Long Term Care beds.”
Ken passed away before he and Joan could be reunited.
Local Progressive Conservative MPP Steve Clark, who represents Leeds---Grenville, says that he believes Burnett “died of heartbreak.” He has called on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins to act.
“It's happening all across the province,” Clark added. “And we need to have more people shine a light on this problem because the government needs to fix it."
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Eric Longley