Canada couple married for 70 years forced to spend Christmas apart
August 2, 2020
A Canadian couple shared an emotional goodbye after learning they will spend their first Christmas holidays apart in 70 years.
Herbert Goodine, 91, and his wife Audrey, 89, have been living together at the Victoria Villa Special Care Home in New Brunswick for the last three years.
The couple shared a moving goodbye kiss as Mr Goodine was moved to another care home located 45 minutes away.
Staff at the facility say they can no longer adequately care for Herbert, who suffers from dementia, due to his deteriorating health.
The decision to separate the couple just before Christmas has angered their daughter, Dianne Phillips, who called the current system “unethical and cruel”.
“When talking to my parents I listened to my mother weep and I could hear my father in the background,” she explained.
“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 [until] after the holidays.’ I assured her that I tried everything to keep them together a few more days.”
Ms Phillips explained in a Facebook post, which has been shared more than 17,000 times, that she was in “disbelief” that “anyone could be so cold and cruel to do this a week prior to Christmas”.
“My parents have been together for a total of 73 years and still sleep in the same bed. I feel people need to know what a flawed system we have in place,” she said.
“There were tears saying goodbye to my mother and lonely faces,” she added.
“My dad was reassessed a week ago and requires Level 3 care, and my mother remains Level 2,” she wrote.
“The Victoria Villa is a Level 2 care home, and I understand my father needs to be moved. It was brought to my attention there may have been resources to facilitate my father’s needs for a few more days to allow them to remain together until Christmas, but none were offered to us and time ran out to put things in place before our unrealistic deadline.
“We too are waiting for answers to clarify how something like this could happen. My father may have needs, however, like any other citizen he has the right to enjoy his life and spending this season with his wife was part of that.
“This should never take place to another human again.”
Jennifer Eagen, the owner of Victoria Villa, told Global News she could not comment on individual cases but said the facility is not equipped to look after residents who need high level care.
“Once a resident is beyond our care, [the Department of Social Development] reassesses that resident to determine what level they are. At that point, I have to follow those rules and regulations set by the government. In fact, it’s against the law for me not to follow those rules,” she said.
“It normally doesn’t take very long because once a resident is beyond our care, we’re not equipped to look after them so it becomes a big safety concern for that resident. So any resident reassessed at a higher level, usually it’s within a day or two, end up moving on to somewhere else.”
The couple will get to spend some of Christmas Day together at their daughter’s home.