Hertfordshire County Council: “We did everything possible to help tragic mother and daughter”

SOCIAL services did everything possible to help a mother and her severely disabled daughter found dead at their Wheathampstead home at the weekend, Hertfordshire County Council has insisted.

It is thought the bodies of Stephania Wolf, 67, and her severely disabled daughter Samantha, 29, had been there some time before police made the gruesome discovery at the three-bedroom bungalow in Marford Road, on Saturday afternoon.

The county council said Mrs Wolf had taken sole responsibility for the care of her paralysed daughter and had refused offers of external help.

Andrew Dawson, from Hertfordshire County Council, said: “In August 1998, an assessment of need resulted in the provision of equipment and major adaptations to the property to provide disability access (ramps, rails etc). Following on from this, various offers of support offered by adult care services were declined.

“We carried out a further assessment of Ms Wolf’s needs in March 2006 and offered to provide day services and various other support which was declined.”

Questions have been raised over whether more could have been done to prevent such a tragedy.

Adult care services insist it could do no more to persuade Mrs Wolf to accept support.

Mr Dawson said: “Hundreds of people have informal carers and are looked after by family members. They do a good job and it wouldn’t necessarily be a reason for us to go and check up on the care they are giving. If they decide to look after that person as a carer we offer support and the help that’s available to them but if they don’t want to accept that and are happy to look after that person themselves then we can’t compel them to do otherwise.”

“If someone doesn’t want our help and has refused our services, there wouldn’t necessarily be calls for us to go back and see them on a regular basis.

“It was agreed with them [the Wolfs] if they needed any support or assistance they would raise that through their GP. There weren’t any concerns about the care the daughter was receiving from her mother – the indications were that she was receiving good physical and health care from her mother.

“The mother didn’t want to accept any help – we can’t get people to accept the services we have.”

Mrs Wolf’s partially decomposed body was found along with that of her daughter on Saturday afternoon, at around 2pm.

The discovery was made after a man delivering leaflets noticed a pile up of mail at the door and contacted police.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Mrs Wolf could have lain dead for weeks, with her daughter unable to call for help or feed herself dying shortly afterwards.

Early post mortem examinations revealed neither women had been exposed to any violence prior to death. Inquests are expected to be opened.