Just four days before Robert Crane died in a fire at his flat, social services closed his referral.

Robert had refused a community care assessment and a social worker had deemed his hoarding “a lifestyle choice” that he had the capacity to make.

The 61-year-old had a history of mental illness and was known to services for regularly lighting a fire and stockpiling flammable items in his home. Care teams and housing officers would arrive to find broken furniture and electrical speakers piled high inside. Sometimes the only way to get in was climbing over a broken sofa that partially blocked the front door.

An inquest held last month found Robert’s death was accidental. However, a serious case review identified missed opportunities to intervene. Services had failed to take Robert’s mental health history into account when assessing his capacity. They had also failed to recognise that his inability or unwillingness to engage with services was a risk in itself.

Robert’s son, Alexander, accused social services and the mental health trust of “ignoring and downplaying” his father’s medical history and failing to take responsibility for his care.

The safeguarding board’s chair warned the review contained lessons around handling the “complex issues” of self-neglect and mental capacity. In response, commissioners said the inclusion of self-neglect in the Care Act 2014 had given agencies “clearer” duties to intervene.

To find out more about Robert and his story, take a look at the full article below:


Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.

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