As longevity increases, and with it the health and mobility issues associated with ageing, more couples are being forced to live apart when one of them moves into residential care. Often, it is the first time they have been separated, which can be quite devastating after a long life together.
Seeing Joan and Ron together leaves staff in no doubt that being in the same facility is vital to their happiness. The couple were living independently, with the support of home care (HACC) services. However, after a few periods in residential respite, they realised that they needed full-time residential care.
Ron was the first to move into Amana Living Parry Hostel, and Joan stayed with her daughter while she waited for a place to become available.
“Whenever possible, we will help couples to live together again,” said Zenith Zeeman, GM Residential Care. “It is too easy for aged care organisations to focus on the physical needs of residents, and overlook the essential emotional needs. Keeping loving couples together can have a huge positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing.”
Parry Hostel Service Manager Mark Backhouse says he will do his best to move couples into adjacent units if that is what they want, while considering individual care needs and respecting the security of tenure of all residents in the facility.
One of the first couples to be brought back together in Parry Hostel was John and Phyllis Hodges, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary there in 2013. The same year, Ivy Drinkwater moved into Parry Hostel, followed by husband Basil a few months later. They have been married for 66 years.
Francis and John Walter are the fourth couple living at Parry together. When Mark Backhouse discovered that John was living in the hostel and Francis in the Parry Village retirement community next door, he was delighted when Francis transferred into the hostel.
“John was desperate to be with his wife, and was overjoyed at the thought of her moving into the facility. I’ll never forget the tears of happiness the day they were reunited,” he said.