‘Most of these elderly people have a simple need – not to be on their own’

'Most of these elderly people have a simple need – not to be on their own'

Richard, 79, a retired railway engineer in the Midlands, is cheerful and courteous on Good Friday as he explains that since the council axed the Dial-a-Ride scheme his social life, including a lunch club, shopping and outings, has been reduced to a single visit each week to church. A neurological condition means that Richard (not his real name) needs a wheelchair. A member of the congregation comes to push him the short distance to church. “I’m extremely lucky in that respect,” he says. Richard is now confined to his room in his sheltered accommodation, six days out of seven. A reduction in staff from six to two also means that his fellow residents are unknown to each other, as there is no extra help to arrange social events.

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