Thanks to healthier life styles and remarkable developments in medical care and treatment, life expectancy has increased enormously over the past forty years or so. People are living active lives for longer than ever before and a telegram from the queen on reaching your hundredth birthday is no longer the achievement it once was. Unfortunately, attitudes to age and older people have not kept pace with these rapid changes in society. It is still common for people to be considered “old” when reaching the age of fifty. For many of us that means being “old” for virtually half our lifetimes!
As humans we have a strong tendency to organise our social worlds by categorising and we all hold unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups. These biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. If our society categorises “older people” as all those over a particular age, say fifty, then we are likely to see all those who arbitrarily fit that categorisation as having commonalities. Our assumptions about those commonalities are informed by our unconscious beliefs.
Does it make sense to view “older people” as a homogeneous group? On the conscious level, when we think about it, it is pretty obvious that “older people” will be a varied and diverse array of individuals with different life-styles, life-chances, motivations and responsibilities. Trouble is that most of the time we are not thinking about it but are acting from our unconscious biases. Not a pleasant thought is it.
Many of us are involved with organisations that directly, or indirectly, interact in one way or another with people. Whether we are delivering services, designing products or managing staff we will be operating from those unconscious assumptions we just acknowledged. What effects could this have on your organisation, your customers or service users?
Innovation and Forward Thinking
The Age Allies Programme is a unique opportunity to develop age awareness within your team. The results have the potential to influence service and product design and delivery and can have real and positive impacts on operational effectiveness and performance. Participants leave our workshops with a greater awareness of themselves in relation to older customers and service users, and with a personal way forward.
The workshop format has been developed with a small group of older volunteers who also act as co-facilitators. Using a series of interactive exercises they have been designed in such a way as to be effective across sectors and business types. They are not just for customer service workers – they are relevant to staff in all roles and at all levels.
The workshop uses a series of interactive exercises to discuss age awareness and attitudes about older people. We hear directly from older people about their own experience and begin to understand the consequences of attitudes and language. We move through a process of identifying the current situation and our own unconscious assumptions, through establishing a way forward for individuals and your organisation, to an invitation to commit to making personal change.
The feedback from our workshops has thus far been universally positive. Here is a small sample:
- “We enjoyed it. Particularly good to have your co facilitators with lived experience who can share personal stories. Certainly gave us food for thought about our attitudes to older people. Our internal age friendly employer working group are currently considering actions we can take.”
- “I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. I felt that the discussions and shared experiences made me think about the impact of words and attitudes. I hope to proactively take more time to engage with others. Thank you for a great workshop.”
- “The “Timeline Selfies” was a brilliant exercise to make us all think about how we make assumptions.”
We are delivering these FREE half day workshops to businesses and organisations all across London. If you would like to find out more about the workshops and discuss the benefits for your organisation, please get in touch. Hey, maybe you want to jump straight in and book a workshop today!