Check-out staff in two branches of supermarket chain Albert Heijn in The Hague are taking part in a project to ‘keep an eye’ on elderly clients, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
if the check-out staff notice that older customers appear to be lonely or distracted, they will ask them if they’d like to have a chat with one of the volunteers from a care organisation based in the store, the paper said.
Care organisation Royaal Zorg is launching the project in two city districts – Loosduinen and Escamp, which have a relatively large elderly population. In total, 20 ‘experienced’ check-out operators will be trained by the care organisation to recognise symptoms and to approach customers.
Supermarket manager Linda Noteboom says the project harks back to the days when people used to stop and have a chat in their local grocery store. It is also an example of way companies can become involved in the ‘participation society’, she said.
The idea came from a Royaal Zorg worker who also had a job in an Albert Heijn supermarket. She noticed that one customer was buying less groceries and those were mainly products in tins. He was also becoming more forgetful.
When she saw the elderly man being taken away in an ambulance, she wondered if there is more she could have done for him,’ Noteboom told the Volkskrant.
The government is keen to encourage elderly people to live in their own homes for as long as possible. It has also cut back on home helps and wants family and friends to take up the slack.
Earlier this month, PostNL launched an experiment in which delivery workers will become the ‘eyes and ears’ of the local council, reporting on uncollected waste, dog mess and other issues.
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