Couple spend 73rd anniversary apart as officials ‘won’t let them live together’

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A couple have been forced to celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary apart because social services won’t let them live together, their family say.

Jean Charvill, 90, had been living on her own at home Derby and her husband Ken, 93, has been moved into Victoria Park Care Home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

Mrs Charvill was told she can manage at home alone with visits from carers despite being bed-bound and incontinent, but her family have demanded that she be moved into the care home and reunited with her husband.

Mrs Charvill’s health has deteriorated since he went into the care home because she misses him so much, their daughter, Sue Barradell, 72, told Derbyshire Live.

The great-grandparents are now set to mark their 73rd anniversary on Sunday with a Zoom call and it could be weeks or even months before they are reunited.

Mrs Barradell said: “In the past few months she has been in and out of the Royal Derby Hospital several times and every time, social services maintain that she can manage on her own with carers’ help and send her back home again for the same cycle to keep being repeated.

“But we as a family know this isn’t the case that she can manage. Prior to going into hospital on the last occasion, she was left in a urine-soaked bed for several hours waiting for a carer to arrive, ending up with infections, slight pneumonia and a high temperature.

“After over two weeks on antibiotics she is now assessed as being fit to leave hospital.

“Once again Derby social services will not give her a care home placement even though there is a vacancy for her in the same care home as my dad, although they have agreed to assess her again which is an improvement on the past few months.”

Mrs Barradell and her husband are shielding during the coronavirus pandemic due to underlying health problems, and have been unable to provide full support Mrs Charvill at home.

One of the couple’s four children lives in Fuerteventura and the other is a key worker at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Mr Charvill was moved to the care home in August when he was discharged from the Royal Derby Hospital at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The family are not allowed to visit Mr Charvill inside the care home, so they’ve been waving at him through the window.

Mrs Barradell said: “My mum is very aware of what is happening and all she wants is to be with her husband of 73 years and to spend their remaining time together. She feels her position is degrading and feels the loss of dignity that goes with being bed-bound and relying on carers.

“They come four times a day and stay for about 30 minutes during which time they have to do everything and there is no-one there overnight to make sure she is dry and confortable. The carers do their best but it is not right for my mum’s needs.

“We as a family appreciate times are hard but should elderly people be treated in this fashion?

“Surely to keep returning my mum to hospital every couple of weeks is less cost effective than giving some assistance with paying for care home funding.

“I know I am biased as it is my mum in this situation but I believe I am not alone and there are other families in Derby who may also be struggling trying to get appropriate help from our local social services, especially in these difficult times. The elderly should not be forgotten.”

Mrs Charvill, who was discharged from hospital a few days ago, has been sent by social services to be assessed at Perth House assisted living facility in Chaddesden after her family insisted she could not be sent home again.

She had stayed at Perth House earlier this year.

Mrs Barradell said: “She arrived at Perth House very tearful and it has all been a bit of an ordeal for her. I think she has accepted the fact she will not be with dad for their anniversary on Sunday, but is still hoping that they can be together for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking to see this happening at this time of their lives.

“I have spoken to my mum on the phone this week. They are trying to get her walking and questioning her as to what help is available to her if she goes home.

“Mum is adamant she does not want to go home as she knows she cannot cope, however, she is not sure how much weight will be given to her views.

“Surely there comes a time when it has to be accepted that care at home for her is not the answer?”

If Mrs Charvill is allowed to move into the care home where her husband is, she will be forced to self-isolate for two weeks before they can finally be together again.

It is hoped the Charvills, who have nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, will be able to see each other on their wedding anniversary via a Zoom call.

Mrs Barradell said: “The staff at Victoria Park suggested it ‘so they can at least see and talk to each other’, which I thought was a lovely gesture but I have to check that Perth House will facilitate it.

“It has been our biggest wish that we could get them back together for such an amazing anniversary achievement but despite weeks of appealing to social services it has not been possible.

“It’s not been a good year for my mum and dad as their home was flooded in March and the pair went to a Derby care home briefly while repairs were carried out.”

The Charvills got married on December 6, 1947 – the same year as the Queen and Prince Philip – after meeting at the Ritz Dance Hall when 18-year-old Ken was serving in the RAF and 15-year-old Jean was a machinist at Clays.

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A Derby City Council spokesman said: “Mrs Charvill was admitted into the Royal Derby Hospital early in November from her home, where she had been living with support from a local care organisation.

“Whilst in hospital, it was identified that Mrs Charvill would benefit from a period of further assessment within Perth House – which is owned and run by Derby City Council and is for people who need a period of assessment and support after hospital.

“Perth House provides short term support and the vast majority of people return home afterwards.

“If someone does need to move into a care home on a permanent basis, we will work with the family which could include supporting partners to remain together if this is possible.

“The council works with colleagues at the Royal Derby to avoid making decisions about long term care at the point someone is in hospital and going to Perth House gives individuals the opportunity to receive intensive therapies and to enable a fuller assessment of their support needs.”