What can be done to keep senior couples together?

The story Lorraine and Joe Papp—a couple married for 62 years living in separate residential facilities—draws attention to the plight of senior couples forced to live apart because of their complex and unique needs.

Earlier today, CTV Vancouver reported the Papps lived together at assisted living facility Royal Crescent Gardens in Maple Ridge until Joe, 83, was moved to long-term care home Holyrood Manor when his health began to take a turn for the worse.

“I just thought that eventually I would move in here too,” Lorraine Papp told CTV. “But it didn’t happen.”

The couple is desperate to be reunited.

The Papp’s story shares similarities with Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk’s, which received international media attention in 2016.

The Gottschalks were separated because care residences are typically not designed with multiple types of care in mind. The BC Care Providers Association helped lead the public conversation with suggested solutions. Ultimately, thanks to the efforts of Fraser Health Authority the Gottschalk’s were ultimately reunited and able to live closer during the months before Wolfram passed away.

Mike Klassen, BCCPA’s VP of Communications & Stakeholder Relations, said this kind of situation is likely to reoccur and that through strong collaborations, care providers, health authorities and the Ministry of Health reduce the likelihood of couples being separated.

“BCCPA has been championing the adoption of care campuses and care hubs that combine different types of care within a single community. The situation that faced the Papps and Gottschalks will need innovative solutions like these,” Klassen said.

“Fraser Health Authority deserves credit for acknowledging the importance of keeping couples together as their unique care needs change. It is good news that they are looking for a way to reunite the Papps.”

Along with working closely with members to encourage innovation in the continuing care sector, the BCCPA is also closely following the evolution of Bill 16 – new regulations facing assisted living providers.

On July 5, 2017, BCCPA released the Assisted Living Tenancy Task Force Review to determine the impact of Bill 16’s regulatory changes on assisted living operators, as well as to assess other issues which are of importance to the continuing care sector. The task force determined that more clarity is needed as to the impact the regulation changes will have on assisted living providers and the people they support.