Until Death Do Us Part- or until we need provincially funded care in a LTC

Welcome to 2020!  Truly hard to believe that we are in a new decade. Time seems to have flown by.  As I sat down to write this blog, I wanted to start the new year with some good news.  I thought I would update readers about the long awaited spousal unification program.   In fact I blogged about this very topic in January 2017 with the following story:

‘After 70 years of marriage Norman and Mae are told by our government that in order to get the care they need, they need to live separately. Certainly there is something not right about this statement, yet as hard as it is to believe, that was the story reported in the National Post on Jan 6, 2017.  At age 94 and 91, Norman and Mae have enjoyed what can be considered a long life and an even longer marriage. The article indicates that they have always lived together- no easy feat at any time. I sincerely doubt they ever anticipated having to live separately in order for them both to receive publicly funded care in a Long Term Care facility.

As we age we may not always have the same health care needs as our partners. A couple’s different care needs may be able to be met in the community if finances permit either at home or in a retirement setting. However when care needs exceed what can be met in the community, many look to Long Term Care facilities, our publicly funded ‘nursing’ homes.

Norman and Mae had both applied for Long Term Care.  According to the story, Mae was offered a bed at her preferred setting. By the way, one typically has 24-48 hours to make a decision as to whether to accept the placement or not. If she accepted the bed, Norman would be on his own, which the family felt was not manageable. She passed on the placement bed so she could remain with her husband. Only a few short weeks later, Norman was offered a spot at the same facility where Mae had declined the bed offer. However due to Ministry policy her name had been removed from all of the waiting lists and she now has to wait 3 months before she can even reapply. There was no mention how long the initial waiting period had been. Many of the ‘preferred’ homes have wait lists of several years.’ This has not changed since this blog was first written.

I don’t know what happened to Norman and Mae but  I continue to read about many other couples who find themselves in similar situations.

In December, Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife and the ‘Till Death Do Us Part Act’ passed second reading. It must still pass a third and final reading before becoming law.

It’s a new year and a new decade and I am in an optimistic mood.  The government is reportedly investing $1.75 billion over the next five years to create 15,000 new LTC beds and will also redevelop 15,000 older.  Maybe this is the decade where we will have adequate beds available and couples will be able to  live together in a publicly funded facility and receive the care they need.


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