Missing man’s family raise serious questions about social services’ response
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The family of a man with dementia who went missing from his home have raised concerns about how his case was treated by social services.
John Cooper, 86, went missing on Saturday, October 24 from his home in Woodbridge.
He was found around seven hours later lying on his back in a field of mud close to the A12.
Mr Cooper was rescued by two members of the public – volunteer community first responder Liz Quickenden and NHS worker Sue Patterson – who had joined search efforts to find him.
Mr Cooper has since recovered from the ordeal but his relatives have raised concerns about the events that led up to his disappearance and the rescue attempt it sparked.
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Prior to his disappearance Mr Cooper had been diagnosed with dementia.
His family say that he had been left confused by the condition and was unable to look after himself or his son, who also needs care, and they had been seeking help from Suffolk County Council social services.
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“We had been trying to get social services involved for some months,” said Mr Cooper’s great niece Theresa Theobald.
Mr Cooper’s wife, Rosemary, died suddenly a few months ago leaving Mr Cooper and his son without their main carer.
“She died very suddenly, she was their carer,” said Miss Theobald.
“The family got involved and we have been calling social services once a week, twice a week.
“These two gentlemen need support.”
Miss Theobald said that the family appreciated the difficulties posed to social services by the coronavirus but insisted that more should have been done to assess what help Mr Cooper needed.
“No one ever visited them at home to find out their story,” said Miss Theobald.
“To find out what was going on, the support they needed.
“It all came to a head when John finally walked out the house and went missing.”
Social services have since become involved in the case and Mr Cooper is now set to receive the care his family believe he needs but they believe it shouldn’t have taken him going missing to spark that action.
“He could have died that Saturday night,” said Miss Theobald.
“If Sue and Liz hadn’t found him when they did.
“It just doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Suffolk County Council said it was unable to comment on individual cases.