26 Feb 2020
Age-Friendly Island write for us on the importance of understanding and meeting people's different needs in later life, and how they put this into practise in their place.
We’ve probably all felt rushed sometime or other when at the till at the shops, trying to put our shopping away quickly while the person waiting behind us takes impatient breaths.
This is a familiar experience for many, but the stress can be particularly acute for older people, those with mobility needs, or learning difficulties.
When somebody raised this issue at an Age Friendly Island public forum in 2017, it struck a chord – so we set out to do something about it.
The Isle of Wight joined the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities in 2016 – the first rural community in the UK to do so. An Age-friendly Community is a place where people are able to live healthy and active later lives.
Age Friendly Island has a focus on improving social connections for people in later life, and empowering older people to be involved in decisions in their communities. We hold quarterly public forums to hear from older residents about the issues they face, and their ideas for how services could work better to support them. For example, in the past people have raised the challenges they face using bus services, which led to local company Southern Vectis taking part in our age-friendly training to make their services more accessible for older passengers.
After someone spoke at one of our forum meetings about needing more time at shopping tills, we set up a task and finish group to create a solution. The group brought together members of the Age Friendly Island team, staff members at the Tesco Extra store in Ryde, and older people who live on the Island.
One staff member said it was a ‘good insight into what some of our customers may experience.’
The Time for You Till is a designated till that works at a slower rate, allowing people to pack their shopping and put away their change at their own speed, have a chat, or ask questions. Staff on the till were given Age-Friendly training, to help them understand the needs of older people and those with disabilities and mobility problems.
The till was trialed for a week. People called it a ‘brilliant idea’, and said it was ‘reassuring’ to know that the till was there.
During the pilot week, Tesco reported an increase in customer satisfaction from 57% to 63%. Staff found the training useful too, saying it helped them better understand their customers, what they need, and what might affect them when they're shopping. One staff member said it was a ‘good insight into what some of our customers may experience.’
Since the pilot, Tesco have taken on some feedback from customers – for example, making the signage clearer, so people find it easier to know which is the Time for You Till, and ensuring that every staff member who works on the till has received the training.
Phyllis Cave, one of the early advocates for the idea, says that the till makes a real difference. ‘The Time for You till means that I will be able to shop knowing that when I get to the checkout struggling to pack my bags and taking longer putting away my change, I will not feel stressed because I'm holding others up.’
In May 2018, the Time for You Till was launched permanently: it’s now open 9am-5pm, 7 days a week, at checkout number 18.