An elderly couple who have been inseparable for 70 years have been left heartbroken after social services forced them to live apart.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison from South Shields must now live separately after South Tyneside Council stopped them moving into the same care home.
Mr Lorrison, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home, while his 88-year-old wife is in hospital after being told she does not meet the criteria to join him.
Their daughter Cheryl Bates, 60, wanted her mother reunited with her father in the care home and has criticised South Tyneside Social Services’ treatment of her parents as “disgusting”.
Mother-of-three Cheryl said: “It is heart-breaking, and so cruel. Why should they be apart after all this time? What gives social services the right to play God?
“They haven’t even got that much time left together. My dad will be lucky if he gets another six months.
“Every day he says, ‘Where is your mam?’
“He’s sitting outside his room in a chair waiting for my mam. He won’t go to bed, he’s sleeping in the chair.
“I am desperate for them to be reunited so they can spend the rest of their days together.”
Ray, who was a cook in the Merchant Navy, and Jessie, a shop manager, met through Ray’s older sister Myra. They married in Christ Church in North Shields, North Tyneside, in 1950 and went on to have three children.
Nine weeks ago Mrs Lorrison was rushed to South Tyneside Hospital after a fall.
Cheryl, a carer, said: “My mam was taken to hospital after we found her collapsed. She had a kidney infection and a lung infection.
“My dad wasn’t well himself and so we arranged for him to go into a home while she recovered.
“He started to deteriorate and it was decided that it was best for him to stay in the home permanently. He was getting well cared for so we were fine with that.”
Jessie was released from hospital after two weeks and was allowed to stay at Westoe Grange Care Home with her husband. But three days later Jessie collapsed again and was rushed to hospital with sepsis.
Cheryl says she has now been told, after an assessment meeting at the hospital, that her mother does not meet the criteria to move into the home with Ray.
She says social services has decided she is to return home and will be visited each day by a carer.
Mrs Bates said; “She is still in hospital. I don’t want her to come out, unless she is able to go and live with my dad.
“I don’t want to take her in to visit as it will be too distressing for them both. If he sees her he will want her to stay. I don’t want to put them through that.”
Ray, who worked down the pit, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago.
The couple have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Cheryl said: “They were always a happy couple. They were inseparable. The only time they spent apart was when he went to sea with the Merchant Navy.”
Cheryl’s son Lee Bates, 41, created an online petition in the hope of getting 100 supporters to sign.
The petition, which describes the treatment as “inhumane and cruel”, has now got almost 5,000 supporters.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “The Council is not able to comment on individual cases, however any decision on care and support for an individual is based on their own needs and is made in line with the Care Act.
“Where possible South Tyneside Council supports older people to remain independent and in their homes.
“A decision to admit any individual to residential care is a major one and often means they are unlikely to return to their own home.
“All factors must therefore be considered through a professional assessment of the individual’s needs before taking such a significant decision.
“If a couple require the same type of care we will always try and ensure they remain together, but we would not automatically take away an individual’s independence to achieve that.”
Source: The Telegraph