Death Of Yorkshire Care Home Boss Still A Mystery
THE death of a mental health care home manager found dead in bed with one of his patients is still shrouded in mystery – two years later.
The cause of Simon Gelder’s death still remains unknown despite an inquiry by Wakefield Council and an inquest.
Mr Gelder was found dead in bed with one of his clients at his luxury home.
Senior management at Wakefield Council had failed to take action against Simon Gelder despite staff at Warren Court in Wakefield reporting allegations that he was involved in drug abuse.
He was found on April 25, 2006. Present at the scene was a tenant of Warren Court, which cares for people with severe mental health problems.
Work colleagues made the discovery after bursting into his home in the Boothroyd apartments in Dewsbury.
Extracts of an investigation into Mr Gelder’s death – obtained by the YEP under the Freedom of Information Act – reveal he had a relationship with a client that went “beyond professional codes of conduct”.
The report also reveals deeper failures at Warren Court, including staff feeling isolated, undervalued and at risk while caring for patients.
Before Mr Gelder’s death, question marks were raised over his ability to manage but his superiors took no action.
Independent investigator Stuart Green states: “In some instances a more formal admonishment would have been merited.”
After Mr Gelder’s death, a 37-year-old man was detained under the Mental Health Act and a 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs.
The full facts surrounding Mr Gelder’s death remain unclear after the date of his inquest was not made known. A request by the YEP for a transcript was refused by Bradford district coroner Roger Whittaker.
He ruled the media was not an “interested person”.
The section of the report detailing the circumstances leading up to the death has also been withheld by Wakefield Council’s exemption panel who ruled that it “would not be in the public interest to further disclose finite detail.”
But extracts that have been released reveal a “significant number” of staff knew of Mr Gelder’s drug misuse.
The external investigation, carried out by Wakefield Family Services and South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust, also found that: “Simon’s personal misuse of drugs was undoubtedly a significant contributing factor in the decline of his ability to successfully manage Warren Court and the resultant disaffaction experienced by staff.”
Mr Green emphasises that no other members of Warren Court staff were to blame.
Warren Court is supported accommodation for adults who have a history of severe mental health problems and have shown they want to live independently in the community.
A minimum of two staff are routinely on duty between 8am and 10pm to cater for up to 14 clients and “sleep-in” staff are available during the night.
The report makes several recommendation, including an internal review of Warren Court, staffing levels, improved communications and for managers to give a written response to staff when serious issues are raised.
Sam Pratheepan, Wakefield Council family services’s director for adults, said: “We commissioned an independent report in line with our normal procedures.”
Independent Wakefield council Roy Bickerton (Featherstone) said information had also been withheld from elected members of the council. “Promises were made that a full report would be brought back before councillors. This has never happened