A Liverpool supermarket is backing a campaign to help people with communication difficulties.
Earlier this year, Liverpool Community Health (LCH) NHS Trust launched an awareness initiative to support people with communication disabilities and improve their shopping experiences at local shops and supermarkets, with Sainsbury’s East Prescot Rd the first big retailer to show their support.
More than 250,000 people in the UK are currently living with the communication disability Aphasia, and yet many people have never even heard of it. Aphasia is caused by damage to parts of the brain responsible for using language and understanding and can affect a person’s ability to speak, read, write or understand what is being said to them. Common causes of Aphasia are linked to strokes, head injuries, tumours and dementia.
The LCH Adult Speech and Language Therapy Team were awarded £200 as part of the national Giving Voice campaign to support getting their ambitious initiative off the ground. The team engaged with local shops and retail staff to share experiences from patients who had acted as mystery shoppers. Based on the feedback, the patients and LCH developed an information poster with a range of communication handy hints which could be used as part of staff training packages.
Following conversations with staff at the store, Sainsbury’s East Prescot Road became the first supermarket to sign up to this campaign. Matt Birch, Regional Manager for Sainsbury’s, invited Councillor Richard McLinden, Chair of the Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee at Liverpool City Council, LCH patients and staff to visit the East Prescot Road store.
The group met with the supermarket colleagues, shared their shopping experiences, toured the newly refurbished store and also presented Sainsbury’s with copies of the poster which will be used as part of their staff training and development plans.
Matt Birch said “This is an idea that has come from a group of patients about their needs when shopping in our stores, and we are delighted to work with them to help our colleagues understand how we can provide an ever improving in-store experience.”
Councillor Richard McLinden continues, added, “I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this event, retailers who are engaging with local communities and actively aim to improve shopping experiences for people with disabilities is heart-warming.”
Anita Williams, Principal Speech and Language Therapist at LCH explains “Feedback from our patients suggests shopping can be difficult and unpleasant due to the lack of awareness of communication disabilities from retail staff. A good shopping experience can increase independence and improve the overall well-being of our patients whilst financially impacting local businesses in a positive way.”
Anita added “We are so excited to have our first sign up to the campaign, Sainsbury’s colleagues have shown care, compassion and sensitivity to the needs of customers. We look forward to other retailers following Sainsbury’s lead and using this tool as part of their Disability Awareness training.”
LCH is also exploring the delivery of accredited communication difficulties training packages to local businesses and are also keen to develop a Shoppers’ Charter.
LCH’s Speech and Language Therapy Team support residents across Liverpool experiencing communication difficulties such as Aphasia, in a variety of settings including their home, nursing homes, clinic and day centres.
For further information on the service or if you wish to get involved in the campaign and would like a copy of the poster contact the Adult Speech and Language Therapy Department on 0151 296 7403.
Pictured are Councillor Richard McLinden, Matt Birch (Regional Manager – Sainsbury’s), Alan Barr (patient) Anita Williams (LCH, Principal Speech and Language Therapist) and Moira Butler (Store Manager)