16 Mar 2018
The Isle of Wight’s main bus operator, Southern Vectis, has incorporated this training into its compulsory programme for all drivers, using an age simulation suit and glasses to give participants an insight into common physical challenges in later life.
Led by Age UK Isle of Wight (Age UK IW) and funded by the Big Lottery as part of their local Ageing Better programme, Age Friendly Island is a partnership of organisations – including the police, fire service, trading standards, charities, the library service and the local council – all committed to making the Isle of Wight a great place to grow old. A major area of work has been developing a training course for service providers.
Developed in partnership with the police and fire service, age-friendly training is targeted at staff who deal directly with customers. It aims to improve services by raising awareness of some of the challenges and barriers that older people can face when using services in later life. Delivered over three hours, which can be tailored to the needs of the organisation, the training covers:
Age-friendly training was piloted with the police and fire service on the Isle of Wight from February to August 2016. It has now been delivered to over 30 organisations on the island, including Red Funnel, Wightlink, Tesco, Southern Water, Southern Housing, HMP Isle of Wight, the Isle of Wight Library Service and Isle of Wight Council. Age UK IW has been invited to provide age-friendly training sessions for organisations on the mainland, including Hampshire Fire in Gosport.
Age-friendly means to me we’re all living longer, we’re all getting older… Part of my job is to assist people as they enter my work. I’m the driver. This is my bus. I want them to have a comfortable ride.
Since introducing age-friendly training, Southern Vectis has seen a reduction in incidents involving slips, trips and falls. The company achieved a 96% overall customer satisfaction rate in the Autumn 2017 Bus Passengers Survey, one of the highest rates in the country.
The training has also led to a range of steps being taken to improve bus services for older customers, including changes to timetables so drivers can allow passengers more time to board. Even a small change, for example an extra minute added to a route, can make a difference.
Around 450 bus drivers across all 14 companies within the Go South Coast group have now received age-friendly training. Southern Vectis is exploring how they can build on their age-friendly approach to improve transport services for passengers with learning difficulties.