Grandparents forced apart over Christmas by Milton Keynes Council

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A grandfather “dying from a broken heart” will spend Christmas without his wife of 50 years because council bosses refuse to let them stay in the same care home.

Bed-bound Raffaello Gerra has been told he can’t move in to Ashby House in Eaglestone to live with his soulmate Isabel, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, because it is not suitable to “meet his needs”.

That is despite the 84-year-old spending 11 weeks in MK Hospital following a stroke, which has left him with poor eyesight, failing kidney function, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Daughter Stephanie Gerra said: “Everyday they are apart a little bit of mum disappears and dad loses the will to live.

“He is losing hope of being reunited with my mum and she is left calling out my dad’s name.

“We would love them to be together for Christmas. It could be their last.”

Mrs Gerra, 74, was diagnosed with late-stage dementia last year and has since lived in Ashby House, just a few minutes walk from her home and husband.

Despite pleas from Mr Gerra’s family, MK Council say he must spend at least six weeks in care housing for assessment - a 15 minute car journey away - but even then there is no guarantee he will be allowed the funding for a £650-a-week place with his wife.

“The stumbling block is money,” said Stephanie.

“If the council could be persuaded that dad has nursing-care needs they could offer more financial support.

“Dad feels that he has let mum down by getting sick as he is no-longer able to care for her and be her loving companion and protector.

“I really don’t want him to die prematurely nor do I want my mother to suffer unduly when she has so much on her plate already.”

On Saturday Stephanie launched a petition to reunite her parents, which has already gathered almost 500 signatures and got the backing of Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart who has promised to do all he can to help reunite Mr and Mrs Gerra.

He said: “I was deeply sorry to hear of this case. It must be an extremely difficult and upsetting time for the family. My office is making all the relevant representations to help Raffaello, his wife and his daughter bring the case to a resolution.”

A spokesman said the council would be arranging for Mr Gerra to share Christmas Day with his wife at Ashby House, but maintained it is not a “suitable placement” to meet his care needs.

He said: “We are very sympathetic to the circumstances of Mr and Mrs Gerra.

“We are doing everything we can to find the best solution, and are working with Guinness Housing Association, which has accommodation opposite the home, to see if they can offer a ground floor flat as soon as one becomes available.

“We will be offering an appropriate care package to allow Mr Gerra to live independently, which will include support for him to visit his wife regularly and also for his wife to visit him in his accommodation once it becomes available across the road from the home.”