Dutch supermarket staff are keeping an eye out for signs of loneliness or neglect in older customers as part of the Super Care initiative.
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Elderly people are often hesitant to seek support from the community, either for fear of being a burden or simply because they don’t know where to turn. Now, cashier staff at Albert Heijn supermarkets in The Hague, are being trained to keep an eye out for signs of loneliness, forgetfulness or neglect in older customers, so they can refer those in need to care specialists.
The Super Care project was launched in collaboration with care organization Royaal Zorg and will see 20 Albert Hejin staff trained to identify and discuss problems seen in elderly customers. When a potential problem is spotted, the cashier can ask the customer if they would like to talk to an instore volunteer, who can refer them to a doctor or welfare organization if necessary.
Linda Noteboom — an employee of both organizations — was inspired to launch the initiative after the loss of a regular customer, which caused her to consider if she could have done more to help. The scheme is taking place at two stores in the Loosduinen and Escamp areas, where there are a large number of elderly customers.
We have seen a few examples of employees making use of their contact with people to provide an additional service, such as Minneapolis police officers who distribute free healthy food packages to hungry citizens they encounter during patrol, and the tattoo artists who are trained to spot signs of skin cancer. Are there other initiatives that could combine employment and public service in this way?