Pair found dead in their home ‘consistently refused’ help

An elderly couple found dead in their home “consistently refused support” from authorities, an independent review found yesterday.

Jean and Derek Randall were found dead at their home in Northampton in January.

At the time, a neighbour said she had tried to get the couple, in their 70s, help from the authorities to no avail.

But a Serious Case Review launched by the Northamptonshire Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults Board found they had not been neglected by authorities and had refused offers of help.

The review said although the couple’s “increasing vulnerability” might have been more clearly identified, different actions by local agencies would not necessarily have avoided their deaths. Mrs Randall died of congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disorder and her husband of pneumonia and lung cancer, and as they died of natural causes, no inquest will be held.

But a Serious Case Review was launched amid concerns more should have been done to help them. It found that many efforts had been made to help the Randalls, which they had not taken up.

The report said Mrs Randall had only partially recovered from a broken hip in 2007, her husband taking sole responsibility for her care, but the couple refused offers of equipment and declined a referral to social services for other support.

In December 2009, after Mr Randall told his GP his wife’s condition was deteriorating, they were referred to adult social care services. But they again refused help as they planned to pay themselves for Mrs Randall to go into a care home. A neighbour also tried to get them help from social services and Age Concern, while their MP wrote to the director of Adult Social Care Services, the report said.

But by the time the couple were called on January 7 about these concerns, they had been found dead in their home in Birch Barn Way, Northampton.

The Serious Case Review said the couple’s vulnerability increased as their health deteriorated and there were some points where that increasing vulnerability might have been more clearly identified and may have led to more “robust efforts” to persuade them to accept help.

It added that neither Mr and Mrs Randall, nor the agencies involved, were fully aware of the seriousness of their health conditions and their decline was “inevitable and probably rapid”.

Northamptonshire County Council’s corporate director of health and adult social services, Charlie MacNally, said the review raised important issues and an action plan had already been put in place.

He added: “It can be difficult to accept that adults who have sound mental capacity are entitled to refuse professional help or services, as was the case here.”

National charity Counsel and Care called for more work to look into what authorities should do when older people refuse help despite concerns being expressed.