– Over 4million1 elderly UK residents feel Britain has become an 'alien nation.'
– Loud music played in shop is the ultimate bug bear for over-65s.
– High street bank becomes first to use an "Aging Suit" for staff to appreciate over-65s daily challenges
Barclays research has found that 4.3million1 (40%) of over-65s say that they don't feel at home in their own country as the UK is becoming a playground for the young.
Also, nearly half of all respondents (49%) feel that the current services they use every day on the high street are designed purely around the needs of a younger rather than older generation.
The top challenges that over-65s face on a weekly basis include:
– Loud pop music played in shops (61%).
– Fashion items designed for a youth audience rather than older people (47%).
– Type being too small e.g. forms (46%).
– Those who push past older people who are slower on e.g. stairs/while walking (42%).
– Large queues at supermarkets when doing the shopping (37%).
As a result of the findings, Barclays has worked with Produkt + Projekt to deploy "BESS" – the 'Barclays Elderly Simulation Suit'. The outfit simulates what it's like to live as an older member of society and experience the physical challenges that people with mobility impairments may face. The technology uses weights, limiting limb movement and artificially impairing hearing and sight.
To appreciate the challenges the elderly face, over 50 Barclay's staff have trialled the age suit to test out branch, internet and telephone banking services. As a result, the bank has created a number of innovations to help older customers better access its services.
These include a variety of "High Visibility" debits cards as the bank found that visually impaired customers found it difficult to read card details when using telephone banking services and were the first high street bank in the UK to introduce "Audio Cash Machines" which enable customers with poor vision to use headphones to be guided through the services available at the banks' ATMs.
As part of the banks inclusive design strategy, smaller changes have also been made such as introducing pens that are easier to grip for older people and hearing induction loops fitted in the counter of all branches as part of its on-going accessibility programme.
Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said: "We have firm aspirations to be the UK's most accessible and inclusive bank so for us it is about how we can make access to our business and workplace easier for everyone. Often it's when you think about how to meet specific needs that you find solutions that help the widest range of people and customers, which is why we want to thread this thinking through every business decisions we make. This Age Suit activity is yet another example of how we can better understand the needs of our customers."
The biggest challenge for elderly females on a weekly basis is that fashion items are increasingly designed for a younger rather than older audience (61%), compared to their male counterparts who feel that loud pop music played in shops is the biggest obstacle in their everyday life (62%)The elderly's attitude towards the accessibility of the high street varies across the county. The South West has the highest proportion of over 65's who think that services in the UK are aimed at young people, rather than older members of society (71%) compared to the East Midlands where just over half (53%) have this view.
Full regional breakdown for percentage of over 65's who feel that services in the UK are aimed at the young, rather than older member of society:
Percentage of over 65's who feel that services in the UK are aimed at the young, rather than older member of society by region:
– South West: 71
– North East: 70
– North West: 65
– Wales: 63
– London: 62
– Yorks and Humber: 60
– East of England: 59
– South East: 59
– West Midlands: 59
– Scotland: 59
– East Midlands: 53
For more information on Barclay's accessibility drive and how the bank are creating products and services to help mitigate the challenges the elderly face visit www.barclays.co.uk/accessibility