A retirement village has been criticised by a Coroner after
an 85-year-old resident lay dead in his flat for two weeks
before his decomposing body was found.
Richard Giese, a former top musician who was principal
flautist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra from 1962 to
1986, died of natural causes at his flat in Kilbirnie,
He was only found when a neighbour, and fellow resident,
queried why she hadn't heard the dulcet tones of his flute
for several days and started making her own enquiries.
Mr Giese, who'd remained mentally sharp and fiercely
independent, was found dead on March 8, 2010 - having died of
a heart attack around two weeks earlier, Wellington regional
Coroner Ian Roderick Smith has ruled in a new finding out
Rita Angus Retirement Village, run by Ryman Healthcare Group,
offers its residents a regular check-up service, but Mr Giese
had chosen not to take part.
But Coroner Smith says it's "unacceptable that a person may
lie deceased in their home for some weeks".
He expressed concern that despite Mr Giese's lights being on
24/7, no-one went to check if he was okay, and that cleaners
working in the hallways outside his flat didn't pick up on
any smell of decomposition.
The case has prompted him to make some suggestions - stopping
short of the more formal recommendations that coroners can
release - so that the outcome is not repeated, especially
given the demand for retirement village accommodation will
continue to rise with the 'Baby Boomer' generation now
Ryman is now piloting electronic movement monitors to notify
care staff if there has been a lack of any internal movement
for 24 hours.
"Ryman were very keen to avoid the situation that occurred
with Mr Giese arising again," a lawyer for the healthcare
provider wrote to Coroner Smith.
But the group stopped short of implementing some of the
The group says a formal review of how residents are coping
would be viewed by them as "a threat to their independence".
Ryman also stressed that the position of independent
residents is "quite different" from its rest home residents,
who receive 24-hour care and where there is an expectation
next of kin is consulted and informed on any decisions
relating to their care.
"Independent residents very much value their privacy and
independence," the group says.
Residents are also encouraged to keep an eye on their
neighbours, and to contact staff if they have concerns.