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Outrage over ‘Inhumane’ Separation of Elderly Couples in Care
Britain’s leading family judge calls for end to splitting up elderly couples
Sir James Munby, Britain’s leading family judge, has spoken of his ‘personal outrage’ over older couples being split up once they are moved into care.
Munby has called for a prompt end to the separation of couples, explaining that no one should ever be uprooted from their home and other family members against their will. The president of the high court’s family division expressed his outrage at the “inhumanity” of placing older couples into different care homes when they have been together for decades, and argued that people would rather stay with their partner than live somewhere safer.
Munby backs studies which show that a disproportionate number of people pass away, soon after being placed into a care home, explaining: “We do know that people die of a broken heart. I have read of cases where one person died and then the other dies a couple of days later. How long do people last if they are uprooted? A very short time.”
He further argues that social workers should forgo “rescuing” the elderly from “squalid” habitats that they regard as their home. He explained his sentiment to the conference:
“Merely demonstrating that if you let that person go on living in that house there is a foreseeable and appreciable risk that one day a neighbour or carer will come in and find them with a broken neck at the bottom of the stairs – is that sufficient justification for making them leave, if it is going to make them thoroughly miserable? It is no good just saying most people would prefer to live longer in nice new accommodation without breaking their neck – some people would not.””
Munby is currently supporting a bid to hold some public family court hearings in England and Wales, the first of their kind, in an attempt to make the system more transparent.