A NATIONAL charity which campaigns to end abuse of the elderly says the Dorothy Morgan manslaughter case is the "tip of an iceberg".

Staff working with Hourglass (Safer Ageing) say that they have seen a huge rise in reported cases that involve neglect of the elderly, with calls about the issue rising from 4,000 in 2017 to 50,000 last year.

Dorothy Morgan's husband and his stepson were both jailed for "gross negligence" manslaughter after failing to help her whilst she was "starving to death" in front of them.

Reacting to the case of Robert Christopher Morgan, 61, and David Holyoak, 53, who were both jailed for the gross negligence manslaughter of 71-year-old Mrs Morgan, the charity welcomed the sentences.

Mrs Morgan was married to Robert Christopher Morgan, while Holyoak was her son by a different man. They failed to get medical help - despite watching her "starve to death" in the Whitehaven home they all shared. 

Their criminal negligence included failures to:

Provide Mrs Morgan with adequate food, leaving her malnourished.

Provide adequate hydration, leaving her dehydrated.

Provide a hygienic environment in which to live.

Provide adequate bodily cleaning, leaving her clothes covered in urine and faeces.

Ensure that Mrs Morgan remained mobile.

And a failure to ensure her health and medical needs were met.

Mrs Morgan was unable to toilet herself for four to six weeks before her death and in her final weeks her toilet was a bucket next to the settee where she lay. Between December 14 and 28, 2020, she was too unwell to care for her own basic physical needs.

News and Star: Robert Christopher Morgan and David Holyoak (Image: Cumbria Police)Robert Christopher Morgan and David Holyoak (Image: Cumbria Police) (Image: PA)

The charity's statement said: “Hourglass, the only UK wide charity calling time on abuse and neglect of older people, welcomes this outcome but warns this is just the tip of the iceberg as abuse of older people hits epidemic levels.”

The charity has published a "manifesto" which demands change to help prevent harm, abuse and neglect of older people.

The statement continued: “This neglect case, resulting in the death of Dorothy Morgan, has horrified the community. Neglect of older people is all too common and often it goes unreported until it is much too late.

“The charity has seen its casework rise from 4,000 calls in 2017 to 50,000 contacts in 2023. Cases of neglect involving an older person are regularly reported to Hourglass ’24/7 helpline with nearly 3,000 cases being reported since 2021.

“In the year ending 2023, the Office for National Statistics reported that that 24,205 adult safeguarding enquiries concerning neglect within the person’s own home were concluded, higher than any other type of enquiry…

“The 2020 growing old in the UK survey found that 2.7 million people in the UK were affected by some form of abuse.

“This epidemic of abuse against older people needs to be taken much more seriously by law enforcement and policy makers.

“Hourglass Trustee and Consultant Geriatrician, Dr Mary Harrington who spoke during the trial said: “This is tragic. Local people knew Mrs Morgan was declining but did not where to turn for help when her family ignored this and failed to get help for her.

“Hourglass’ advice line 0808 808 8141 would have guided callers on how to prevent Mrs Morgan’s undignified and painful death.

“Hiding behind her alleged dislike of hospitals was no excuse for failing to obtain home services so her basic hygiene and comfort needs were met.”

Chief Executive of Hourglass, Richard Robinson said: “This is both a horrific crime and a tragic case for an older woman who deserved so much better.

“Hourglass is battling hard underline the rising tide of neglect and abuse against older people and, sadly, it is only through awful high-profile cases like this when the truth becomes all-too-clear.”

In a message of support for the charity, Edward Argar MP has said that the charity provides a vital lifeline for the elderly with is helpline. 

* For more about this charity, click on this Hourglass link.