Heartache Of Elderly Couple Forced To Live Apart After 51 Years Of Marriage

A devoted elderly couple who have been inseparable for more than half-a-century have been forced into different care homes by social services. Geoffrey and Margaret Jones, who have been married for 51 years, have been split up for practically the first time since falling in love while working in the same office. Now their family believe their health is deteriorating further because of the heartache of not being able to see one another and are demanding that a place be found where they can spend their remaining time together.

Mr Jones, who is now 80, served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War before getting a job in the construction industry. He met his future wife while they were working at the same office, and ever since marrying in 1955 relatives say they have been “utterly devoted” to each other.

Mrs Jones, now 78, worked as a telephonist for the local council and the couple, who never had any children, owned a large house in Timperley, Greater Manchester.

The couple enjoyed their retirement, taking a number of holidays including cruises and visiting friends in the U.S, while Mr Jones was an active member of a local bowls club. But in recent years he began suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and in January last year, while his wife was in hospital with a chest infection, he went into a home in Altrincham for respite care.

Staff at the home, Brookside, assessed him and decided he needed to remain there even after his wife returned to the marital home.

At the end of last year, however, Mrs Jones had another stay in hospital, and when she was discharged in April it was decided that she too was not well enough to look after herself. But instead of putting her into the same home as her husband, social services instead put her in a different one two miles away in Sale, Kara House. With the exception of very occasional visits they have been apart ever since.

The Daily Mail’s Dignity for the Elderly campaign has highlighted the plight of pensioners in hospitals and care homes, including abuses such as underfeeding, cruelty and couples being separated after decades together to save money.

Yesterday the Joneses’ niece, Christine Hardman, said the enforced separation had been devastating for both of them. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Margaret doesn’t accept how ill Geoff is, but all she wants to do is be with him and hold his hand. Surely arrangements could be made to bring them back together. To keep them apart is so cruel. They had a very happy life until illness struck. I have always been very close to them both, and they took me on holidays when I was little.”

But since being split up permanently she says her aunt has appeared to lose the will to carry on. “She desperately wanted to do what she could for him right until the end,” she added. “I took her to see him at the home several times before she went into hospital. Since then she has been taken over to Altrincham to see Geoff once or twice, but isn’t always up to it, and has had to face the heartache of being apart from him.

“It’s such a sad state of affairs. Margaret would be thrilled if they could be together again, and although Geoff’s condition is worse than hers I’m sure it would be a comfort to him to have her there.”

Trafford council said it was trying to find a way to allow the Joneses to be together but that it was difficult to find suitable accommodation because of their different needs. It added that social services always make every effort to consider the wishes of families when long-term residential care is being considered.

But director of commissioning and service development Anne Higgins said: “Mrs Jones cannot join her husband at Brookside because her care needs would not be met there. However, we are working to find a suitable alternative to enable them to be together.”