The purpose of the guide

This guide takes a quality improvement approach to what older people are looking for in their customer service experience and provides some tips and tricks for improvement.

The guide has been designed to be used flexibly to support a range of customer services to provide age friendly services that uphold the rights of older South Australians.

The guide was developed through a series of consultations with customer service staff from a range of South Australian government organisations and older volunteer ‘Age Friendly Advisors’, who were engaged to co-design a suite of Age Friendly Guidelines and resources that could be used across a range of customer service settings.

The suite of materials was pilot tested by a number of state government services staff and revised based on the feedback received.

Age Friendly: What does it mean?

Age Friendly services recognise the importance of older people as valued community members.

The South Australian Government is committed to cultivating a community that is inclusive of all South Australians, including our diverse older population, and challenges ageism. Feedback has shown most find negotiating services for themselves or family and friends unnecessarily complicated.

This guide is designed to provide front line service staff with the tools to ensure that older South Australians’ experience of the service they provide is as Age Friendly as possible, and that the organisations are inclusive of and accessible to older people. It aims to help you offer services that:

  • Demonstrate management and leadership in the delivery of Age Friendly services.
  • Respond to the diversity of needs and interests of older people with confidence;
  • Ensure older people find your service easy to access;
  • Preserve and promote the dignity of older people; and
  • Allow for older people to participate in service design and review.

Why is this important?

Older South Australians (those aged 50 and over) make up over one-third of the state’s population (630,584 people in June 2016, ABS) and this number is growing. The three generations amongst our over-50s include:

  • The 50-70 age group - this group is often preparing for older age, still working, retraining, mentoring, volunteering, retiring and caring, and most likely have a good working knowledge of social media and other technologies.
  • 70-85 age group - many in this group are facing increased challenges with mobility and health, caring for partners and friends, or perhaps facing economic disadvantage. For some there will be new opportunities on the horizon such as travelling locally or internationally, while some are still working.
  • Over 85s - this group may be beginning a time of wisdom and gratitude, while facing deeper challenges of meaning, health, and possible economic disadvantage.

The priorities of older South Australians are diverse, and what they have to offer South Australia is equally so. Most live independently in the community (95%). Some have complex health needs while others are robust and resilient. Many have past experiences in institutional care, including: the Stolen Generations; Forgotten Australians; people with disabilities; and those with mental health issues.

A group of older volunteers (our Age Friendly Advisors) and a diverse range of South Australian public sector staff have contributed to the development of this guide.

Self-Reflection Tool – Age Friendly Services

The Self-Reflection Tool is designed for individuals or teams with a customer service aspect to their work. It provides an option for honest self-assessment through a quick thought-provoking exercise. The Self-Reflection Tool aims to raise awareness and, along with the rest of this guide, support decision making about where and how to improve.

Self-Reflection Tool