An N.L. couple married 7 decades but separated in long-term care are moving back together
Marilyn Gould says her father couldn't contain his joy when he got the news that he'll soon be living with his wife of almost 70 years again.
"I was on my phone in the car and the social worker was trying to tell me and [Dad] was hooting and hollering and she said, 'Well, I guess I'll take that as a yes?'" she said.
Gould's father, Jim Woolfrey, has been separated from his wife, Theresa, for about a year and a half because they require different levels of care.
People just need to keep it alive until this policy is changed so that seniors are not separated in their later years. - Marilyn Gould
The Woolfreys are both 86 years old. He needs Level 1 care, for people who are independently mobile but need some help, and she needs Level 3 care, for people who require at least three hours of supervision over a 24-hour period.
Newfoundland and Labrador is struggling with a shortage of long-term care beds and workers to provide care. It means long-term care facilities that provide higher levels of care can't also accept someone like Jim, who doesn't require as much help. So the Woolfreys were forced to live apart.
In February, provincial health minister Tom Osborne announced a review of personal and long-term care homes, including facilities' inability to accept couples who require different levels of care
In early March, Osborne told CBC News that short term solutions are coming soon. For the Woolfreys, at least, a solution has arrived.
"On Friday at about 4 0'clock Tom Osborne called me and said there are going to be some changes and Dad will be able to get in with Mom, and then about noon on Saturday the long-term care director called me and said that she had gotten word that this needed to be taken care of, and then Tuesday they called and said a bed is going to be ready in a few days," said Gould.
The Woolfreys aren't living together yet but Gould expects they will be by Monday.
She and her family have been doggedly pushing for the change for months. They've spoken out about their family's situation on social media and said yes to every media request for interviews.
"I don't know whose chain we yanked on or if it was just cumulative over time, sending letters and emails, but I think everybody was on the same page that this should never be," said Gould.
She has advice for other families facing a similar situation.
"Keep at it. Keep going. Wherever you can go, keep trying. Never give up," said Gould
"We've been at this for a year and a half, and there have been points where we said, 'It's not going to happen,' but people just need to keep it alive until this policy is changed so that seniors are not separated in their later years."