Pensioners' deaths: no one to blame

An independent review into the care of an elderly couple found dead in their Northamptonshire home found that authorities had tried to help but they had "consistently refused support''.

The bodies of Jean and Derek Randall were found at their home in Northampton in January at the height of the big freeze.

At the time a concerned neighbour said she had tried unsucessfully to get the couple, in their 70s, help from various authorities.

But a Serious Case Review launched by the Northamptonshire Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults Board found they had not been neglected by authorities. The independent review involved local GPs, Age Concern, Northamptonshire County Council, and Northamptonshire NHS.

Serious Case Reviews are usually launched when a vulnerable adult dies and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor. No inquest will be held into the Randalls' deaths as they died of natural causes, but the Safeguarding Adults Board said a Serious Case Review was launched amid concerns more should have been done to help the elderly couple.

A summary of its findings said efforts had been made to help the Randalls, which they had not taken up. But bosses said important issues had been raised and an action plan put in place to learn for the future.

The report said the couple - referred to as Mr and Mrs R - lived together in their own home and Mrs Randall had only partially recovered from a broken hip in 2007. In December 2009, Mr Randall told his GP his wife's condition was deteriorating and the couple were contacted by the district nurse, and referred to social services, the report said.

``The couple chose not to accept the offers of services made but did agree to advice being provided by Age Concern about the possibility of residential care,'' it said. The report found a neighbour also tried to get the couple help from the social care service and Age Concern, while their local MP also wrote to the director of Adult Social Care Services.

``This resulted in a manager attempting to contact Mr and Mrs R by telephone on January 7,'' the report found. But it said by that time the couple had been found dead in their home in Birch Barn Way, Northampton.

``Mr and Mrs R died from natural causes and no evidence was found of abuse or neglect,'' the report said. Northamptonshire County Council's corporate director of health and adult social services, Charlie MacNally, said the review raised important issues and an action plan for its recommendations had already been put in place.

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