Supermarkets in The Hague to provide extra support for elderly
Cashiers at two supermarkets in The Hague will receive training in how to recognise when elderly customers could be in need of assistance and there will be volunteers on hand to provide professional information, according to the Volkskrant.
Neighbourhood grocery store
The idea is to resurrect the role of the neighbourhood grocery stores of yesteryear, which filled an important social function, especially for older people.
It is also a sign of a growing trend in the Netherlands of the private sector trying to play a more active part in the local community, according to Linda Noteboom, the manager of the Albert Heijn supermarket in Loosduinen.
Serving many senior citizens
The Loosduinen supermarket is one of the two participating stores, the other one being the Albert Heijn in Escamp.
Both of these grocery stores serve a large number of senior citizens in their respective neighbourhoods in The Hague.
Privacy of shoppers paramount
Cashiers will keep an observant eye on elderly customers who may be in need of attention.
Customers need not worry about cashiers suddenly sticking their noses where they don’t belong, only very serious or alarming situations will be addressed.
When the situation calls for it, elderly customers are given the opportunity to speak to one of the volunteers, who in turn can refer them to a professional should the situation warrant it.
The volunteers will sit in the supermarket’s coffee corner, in order to create a casual atmosphere for small talk.
Concern for elderly customer
The project came into being due to the experience of an employee of home care provider Royaal Zorg, who also happened to work as a cashier at Albert Heijn.
She had observed that an elderly man started buying less and less groceries, and primarily canned food.
He began losing weight and became increasingly forgetful. This man was later taken away by ambulance, and it made the cashier wonder whether she could have done more to help him.
Service provider for the elderly
This initiative is part of project SuperZorg that was presented recently by The Hague municipality, in an attempt to increase the quality of care in the city.
It is a collaboration between the two supermarkets and Royaal Zorg, a provider of home care services for the elderly.
Twenty experienced cashiers from both Albert Heijn stores will receive training in January 2016 from professional care providers from Royaal Zorg and WoonZorgcentra Haaglanden.
They will be taught how to identify potential problems and the best way to speak to customers about their concerns.
The project in The Hague is not the first initiative by Albert Heijn supermarkets to provide a little extra support for the aging population in the Netherlands.
Doorn, in the province of Utrecht, has an Albert Heijn that since the summer of 2015 is "dementia-friendly". If an elderly customer forgets to pay they aren’t immediately labelled as shoplifters.
Store Manager Nico Spierenburg told the Volkskrant that 25 of his employees have received training on how to handle people with dementia.
Helping disoriented customers
Prior to the training, employees for example didn’t know how to deal with a customer who had suddenly gotten lost in the grocery store. If a customer can’t remember their PIN-code, cashiers will now try to help.
If a customer forgets their way home, the employees now have a contact person at a professional care provider who will help this person to get home safely.