Local bus companies trained to Be a Friend to elderly passengers

How difficult is it to get about in your senior years? How much harder does getting to the shops become for the elderly? Last week in Hove, the national charity Friends of the Elderly bought their knowledge and expertise to Brighton and Hove Bus Company and Metro Bus to help their staff understand the difficulties of coping with ageing. tumblr_inline_nkdn3bwGw31sbbmuo Buses and public transport are a vital part of life to a lot of elderly people, keeping them active and mobile in their later years. The ability to interact with other people, maintain relationships and most of all retain their independence is essential for health and mental wellbeing and can also help towards reducing loneliness and isolation. Whilst there is a focus to ensure there are good public transport facilities for older people there is sometimes a lack of understanding on the specific needs of these passengers. Tying in directly with their promises of corporate social responsibility, Brighton and Hove Bus Company and Metro Bus are spearheading the movement of focusing on the community they provide for. By ensuring their staff are trained to provide the best service for everyone using their buses they are improving the wider community. If elderly people are trapped without the support they need from public transport then community services won’t be used to their fullest. tumblr_inline_nkdn4154vK1sbbmuo Martin Harris, Managing Director of Brighton and Hove Bus Company, said, “Brighton & Hove Bus Company is on a big learning curve at the moment. We are working hard to up our game when it comes to accessibility for all, and there is tremendous enthusiasm amongst our staff to do so. But we need that input from people with the experience of the issues and who have learnt and understand how best to address those issues. We want to learn from the experts in each field. That’s where working with Friends of the Elderly comes in. “They ran a brilliantly informative session for a wide cross section of our team – customer service staff, supervisors and managers – to mention just a few. The input from Friends of the Elderly is being used to enrich our staff training and improve understanding throughout the organisation about the ways in which we can be of most help to our elderly customers.” tumblr_inline_nkdn4hUmEU1sbbmuo The training from Friends of the Elderly focuses on experiencing the impact of ageing, understanding and responding to the needs of older people and utilising the training effectively within the workplace. The training allows the staff to experience some of the physical impacts of ageing such as hearing loss, sight difficulties and mobility. The course also highlighted the invisible issues elderly people face on a daily basis. Topics discussed in the sessions ranged from loss of self-worth and agoraphobia to regrets and loss of loved ones. tumblr_inline_nkdn6ny8G81sbbmuo Jenny Russell, Head of volunteering and community engagement at Friends of the Elderly, said, “To work with such an inspired group, who encounter the elderly every day in their workplace, was very encouraging as their roles are pivotal in making a difference to older people by offering them empathy, understanding, support and time. The group already possessed the essential skills but were further enlightened into how both emotional and physical aspects greatly affect older people. Friends of the Elderly are grateful for Brighton and Hove Buses support to the Be a Friend Campaign.” tumblr_inline_nkdn50vWKP1sbbmuo There is a lot of discussion in government and local councils at the moment concerning pension benefits and the importance of maintaining support for the elderly in care and at home. Politicians from all political parties are highlighting the issues faced in later life and it’s important that the companies which provide vital services to help maintain independence have the best tools and training to deliver the right support. It’s essential that companies like Brighton & Hove Bus Company and Metro Bus are aware of their corporate social responsibility by focusing on ensuring their customers who are elderly are understood and getting the support and services they need. A member of staff from Brighton and Hove Bus Company said, “It really made me realise how challenging it is to be older. It enhanced my empathy and made me recognise signs when an older person needs help.” tumblr_inline_nkdn5uEhJu1sbbmuo Twitter: @FriendsElderly Facebook: FriendsElderly

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