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Council cleared of failure to help ‘frozen couple’

A serious case review has cleared Northamptonshire Council of any failures in the case of an elderly couple suspected of freezing to death in their home in January.

A serious case review has cleared Northamptonshire Council of any failures in the case of an elderly couple suspected of freezing to death in their home in January.

The SCR by Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board examined the involvement of professionals in the care of Derek and Jean Randall, a couple in their seventies who died of natural causes. Mrs Randall was disabled and her husband was her carer.

There were suspicions the couple had frozen to death. But a coroner’s report concluded that Mrs Randall had died of heart failure and Mr Randall pneumonia.

The SCR found that the Randalls had been offered help in their home by the council, district nurse and their GP. Instead, they were awaiting an admission to a care home for Mrs Randall, which the couple were going to pay for.

The SCR recommended a review of the action agencies can take when adults refuse help.

Charlie MacNally, director of health and adult social care at Northamptonshire Council, said: “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. Nevertheless, it is vital that, as an organisation, we are ready and able to support those adults who do ask for support”

Stephen Burke, chief executive of national older people’s charity Counsel and Care, called for a national review. “With increasing numbers of older people living isolated, lonely lives, it would be helpful for a national review to consider what could be done to help older people who refuse care and support,” he said.

The SCR also recommended that all agencies ensure they implement a single assessment process and that information is shared.

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