‘Christmas is over for us now’: Elderly couple married 69 years, now forced apart

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Just a week before Christmas, an elderly New Brunswick couple has been forced into separate long-term care facilities.

“My parents have been together for a total of 73 years and still sleep in the same bed,” their daughter Dianne Goodine Phillips posted on Facebook a day before her parents were unceremoniously divided. “I feel people need to know what a flawed system we have in place. Two words describe it: unethical and cruel.”

Until Monday, Herbert and Audrey Goodine had been living together for the past four years at a special care home in the village of Perth-Andover, N.B. The couple, who are 91 and 89 respectively, have been married for 69 years. But with Herbert’s health deteriorating, their family was told on Friday by N.B’s Department of Social Development — which oversees the province’s long-term care facilities — that Herbert would have to be moved to a nursing home.

According to their daughter’s emotional Facebook post, the couple was given three options: two of which would have seen them stay together at nursing homes more than two hours away from their friends and family; and, a third option in which Herbert would be moved alone to a facility some 30 minutes away in Plaster Rock, N.B.

Their daughter, however, simply wanted a fourth option — and that was to extend her father’s residency in Perth-Andover until after Christmas. Told that she would have to make the difficult decision that very same Friday, she hesitated. According to her, a Department of Social Development representative then approached her parents and forced them to choose.

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