Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Disabled woman starves to death after her mother's death

Mother refused council offer of help*

By Channel 4 News
Updated on 03 August 2010
The Hertfordshire mother who was found dead along with her disabled daughter in their home on Saturday had refused help from Social Services on two occasions, Channel 4 News has learnt.
Wheathampstead house where the bodies were discovered on Saturday. Hertfordshire County Council says it had offered help to the mother, locally identified as Stephanie Wolf, whose partially decomposed body was found along with that of her 29-year-old disabled daughter at their home 'Swiss Cottage' in Wheathampstead on Saturday.
"We were aware of the family but they had refused our offer of services," a spokesman for the 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."
Unconfirmed reports suggested Ms Wolf may have died several weeks ago, leaving her daughter unable to care for herself. Channel 4 News has since learnt the daughter had cerebral palsy and that the mother, who neighbours described as a "little woman" who "kept herself very private and to herself", to be in her mid- to late-60s and not 59 as previously reported.
Police enter 'Swiss Cottage' this afternoon. Photo: Channel 4 News
Kerry Goodwin, who lived next door to the Wolf's for 15 years, said: "I don't really know their names. They're very private people... We said hi when we were passing them, but they were very proud people and liked to keep themselves to themselves.
"They didn't like people getting involved in their business and it's quite a tragedy really as we could have helped if we'd known.
"She liked her lawn kept immaculate and hedge trimmed and they were the only times I saw her," Ms Goodwin said.
When asked if she knew about any involvement with social services, Ms Goodwin said: "I saw the daughter going out for day trips in the mini van but other than that, nothing really.
"As far as I know the mother always looked after the daughter really well. They went out on day trips, they always seemed like a happy couple together."
Initial results of two post mortems suggest there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths. Local police, who said they were not looking for anyone in connection with the deaths, said tests showed there were no external injuries

* PLEASE NOTE;  refusing council help/failing to engage is typically local authority speak for "wouldn't do what we (the local authority) tell them to do/accept substandard care packages, care providers or equipment"


Fire Byrd said...

How horribly sad.
What a dreaful way for the daughter to die.

Arienette said...

My immediate thought was 'What help? What help did they 'refuse'? Was it appropriate? Would it have cut into their benefits, perhaps making their lives MORE difficult? Would it have clashed with an already established routine they had and cherished? Would it have been gaurunteed, or just when and if they council could be bothered to remember to provide it? Would it have meant leaving their home and moving into a different property? Was this 'help' actually the suggestion that her daughter move into a group care setting?'
I just dn't buy this whole 'it's their own fault because they refused help' line, especially when there is so MUCH emphasis on how 'proud' they were and so little detail on what this help was. Clearly they accepted some help/respite if the daughter was going for trips in a mini-van.

Or, you know, maybe they had money and didn't want to burden the council with an expense they could meet by themselves? How terrible of them to try to release a little bit of the financial strain on an overburdened system!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Arienette: EXACTLY!

WendyCarole said...

What a dreadful thing to happen

Anonymous said...

It's not hard to set up a phone call once a week or twice a week, or just to make sure a neigbour checks, the neibour saying they were private for god sake, I always keep an eye on the people around me who I know are at risk.

Not to long ago my eighty six year old neigbour had a heart attack, because I had not seen them I called the police, he was laying on the bed near death, he spent some time in hospital, sadly in the end he passed away at least it was in hospital not at home on his own and left for maybe days weeks.

People have to remember that society are us the people not the so called gestapo

steph said...

Very, very sad...

Both the death of the mother and daughter... and the subsequent excuses from those who could/should have cared enough to intervene.

It's a sad reflection of the society we live in today.

Kirst said...

I think it's unlikely the council would have tried to persuade them to move to another house, given they'd already provided major adaptations.

Look, I know sometimes 'refusing council help/failing to engage is typically local authority speak for "wouldn't do what we (the local authority) tell them to do/accept substandard care packages, care providers or equipment" ' - but sometimes it does actually mean they refused help, they didn't want help, they wanted to manage without help.