LETTER: Rethink needed over support for elderly

HOW deeply moved I was by the article in the September 23 Chichester Observer concerning the deaths of an elderly couple in Summersdale, Chichester in May this year.

But surely they did not choose to die with dignity as Detective Constable Lindsey Valder-Davis, from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “They had many happy years together and to depart with dignity was their chosen option.”

This desperately unhappy husband, separated from his wife by her needs for care which he couldn’t provide, chose to kill his wife and to kill himself because he found himself with no other power over these terrible circumstances.

Powerless, desperately unhappy by the separation from his wife whom he loved so deeply, he chose to take her life, when she, not being him, might not have wanted to die, and to take his own life.

It is a heart-rending decision, forced upon them not out of dignity but out of desperation and a shame to us all, that we provide no solution in such a situation but to separate couples. Our society, our health care, has to provide a better solution – where couples can stay together.

Would not a live-in carer have been a possible option to keep them together? Was it finances or some other reason that made this option not available to them?

If it were the way that funding works for care of the elderly, then should we not look again at funding options, so that staying together where a couple are devoted to each other as in this case becomes the foremost, the essential priority in any decision making? In Scotland, staying at home has been a priority for Social Services and health care decisions for decades, and enormous lengths are gone to in order to make this possible, but not so here in England. Would that it were so.

Sally Ann Jackson

Chichester