A Derry teacher has issued an impassioned plea to Health Trust officials not to move her seriously ill husband to a nursing home more than an hour from Derry.
Margaret Toland, whose 70 years old husband, Joe, suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s is set to be moved from the Waterside Hospital to Slievenamon Nursing Home outside of Omagh this Monday.
Mrs Toland was informed of the decision to move her husband during one of her daily visits to his bedside this week.
“I visit Joe every day. I am all he has and I am the only person he still knows by name.
“We are not just husband and wife, we are best friends. We have been married for 42 years and have never been apart. I see him every day - for two hours every day.”
A Special Needs teacher, Margaret visits her husband each day when she finishes work. She cared for him at home until she was no longer able to meet his needs - and he has been an inpatient in the Waterside Hospital since May of last year.
“We are still utterly devoted to each other - but I cannot physically make a two hour drive every day after work to see him.
“Without that, will he forget me? Who will be able to check he is OK? I need to be able to see him.”
Margaret said she felt “ambushed” by medical staff who informed her of her husband’s imminent move. “I didn’t have time to gather my thoughts - to have someone with me even.”
She said that she will give up her full time job to care for Joe again at home rather than see him shipped to ahome an hour away.
“I have always worked. Joe always worked when he could. I have never looked for help - but I will have no choice but to give up my work to ensure we can still be together.”Yesterday a spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “Due to confidentiality reasons the Trust does not comment on the individual care or treatment of patients.”
However, in answer to general questions surrounding dementia care, asked by the ‘Journal,’ the spokesperson said: “Families and carers are involved throughout the process of discharge planning and nursing home placement and every effort is made to ensure the needs and wishes of the patient/carers are considered.
“Families are informed of the assessment outcome and their views and wishes sought with regards post discharge placement.
“The Western Trust commissions nursing home beds across the geographical area to try to ensure that where possible people can be placed as near to their family home/carers as possible. However on occasions this may not be possible for a number of reasons, for example due to complexity of care specialised need.
“These placements are kept under review and if change and placement needs can be accommodated locally, the same will be offered to families.”