Reunited - the couple kept apart for nine months by Covid care home restrictions

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Amy Welch

Reunited - the legal victory which means John and Michelle Davies from Wigan can be together again.

They were forced apart when Michelle was in a care home after suffering from a brain aneurysm and stroke in December 2018, which left her with devastating brain damage.

She was receiving specialist rehabilitative care with the aim of returning home to her family in Leigh when and then the Covid-19 pandemic forced the couple apart.

Her husband, Dr John Davies had not had any physical contact with his wife of 37 years since March, with just a handful of socially distanced visits when lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Michelle in happier times before her stroke with her husband John who took legal action to be able to see his wife

He believed the restrictions were having a detrimental impact on Michelle's rehabilitation and were adversely affecting her mental health and breached her human rights.

Before lockdown, John had visited his wife every day for 15 months, staying for a minimum of three hours a day.

He launched a legal challenge in the Court of Protection, which called on Wigan Council and Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group, which are responsible for Michelle's care to carry out risk assessments, allowing relatives to visit their loved ones in care homes, while still maintaining Covid-19 protocols.

John Davies talking to his wife on the phone when face to face visits were stopped during lockdown

The government has now issued guidance encouraging care homes to provide 'safe visiting opportunities' while national restrictions are in force. This included tailoring visits to the specific needs of residents.

Michelle, who is 58 was a former social services clerk and is reliant on the support of carers for all aspects of her care.

John says while her speech is limited, she is still able to understand what is being said and can communicate through facial expressions and songs.

Since being able to come home, Michelle has not stopped singing or smiling and joined in a song with John, singing 'Welcome home".

Michelle Davies joining in song with her husband, with the couple singing 'welcome home'

Visiting rights aren't a legal requirement at care homes and are still voluntary and differ at individual homes.

In a statement The Department of Health said: "We are doing everything we can to support care providers in facilitating visits safely between residents and their friends and family.

"This includes ensuring all residents can nominate an essential care giver, removing limits on named or daily visitors and reducing the period of time visit restrictions apply following an outbreak across the home.

"Our message is clear - all care home residents should be supported to get the care and companionship they need from visitors as this is essential to their health and wellbeing.