Court order  separates elderly couple

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 17, 2016

A recent court order granted by P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell will mean a couple will have to be separated after 60 years of marriage in order for the wife to receive the 24-hour nursing home care she needs.

An 83-year-old P.E.I. woman with Parkinson's disease and signs of dementia will be staying in government care despite her husband's attempts to keep her at home.

That's after the minister of health and wellness sought a protective intervention order for six months to keep the woman in hospital until a spot opens up in her community nursing home.

P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell granted the order, saying he was satisfied the woman was in need of protection and the order was appropriate.

Campbell's Feb. 8 decision didn't name the woman, but did provide details of her circumstances as her husband tried to care for her.

P.E.I.'s adult protection office got involved in the case in October 2015 after a neighbour reported hearing screaming and what sounded like slapping coming from the couple's room.

She entered the room and found the woman on the floor.

The neighbour called the police, and the woman was hospitalized.

No charges were laid, and the husband testified the woman slipped and fell.

He also testified he was capable of taking care of his wife and had been doing so for years, including giving her medications as required, as well as cooking and cleaning.

His plan for care included hiring an LPN to provide any care required.

The couple has been married for 60 years and during a hearing the husband testified they had only ever been apart once many years ago.

The husband said the separation could be deadly to them both.

But, in his decision, Campbell said professionals involved in the case concluded the woman needs 24-hour nursing home care, and the only person opposing the application was her husband.

Campbell said the woman has had several falls in recent months, including at home and while in hospital, and he didn’t consider it her best interest to let her leave hospital without any intervention.

In granting the order for six months, Campbell also required a written update within three months of the order taking effect.