Tips & tricks – for improved Age Friendly Services

In this section:

This page provides useful tips in the five key subjects of the Guide to Age Friendly Customer Services. It is a collection of all the “Tips and Tricks” sections on each key subject page.


  • Embed Age Friendly customer service orientation in regular training, development and induction opportunities for all customer service teams.
  • Review employment policies to include recruitment, re-training, mentoring and flexible work practices for older people.
  • Ensure visual images about the work of your teams include older people.


  • Aim for an employee profile that matches the diversity of the South Australian population.
  • Use diverse images of healthy and active older people in all communications. Avoid using images/symbols of frail older people, or images of medical or institutional care unless relevant.
  • Consider outreach into Aboriginal settings with a local cultural adviser.
  • Work in partnership with Aboriginal controlled organisations to enable the delivery of information and outreach.
  • Provide regular translated media releases for ethnic newspapers and radio.
  • Gain buy-in from community champions and leaders who can help you connect with their communities via local language schools, cultural meal, delivery services and churches.
  • Be sensitive to people’s privacy about their gender, sexuality or sexual orientation.
  • On forms individuals should be given the option to select Male, Female or Other.
  • Be prepared to provide extra support where people disclose experiences, including discrimination, abuse or trauma.
  • Follow a client’s lead about how they refer to themselves and others.
  • Develop procedures for referring LGBTI+ clients to LGBTI+ sensitive service and supports, specialist or mainstream.


  • Clearly communicate how customers can access service staff through all relevant mediums up-front. Publish in larger font (at least 12 font, and in high contrast tones).
  • Make telephone numbers easy to find on websites and in publications.
  • Include larger keys on phones and keyboards, have volume at a higher level for audio messaging.
  • Consider how older people who are homeless can access information about the service and how the service can communicate with people who don’t have a fixed address or access to a personal phone. Partner with specialist service providers for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Where possible provide continuity of relationship.
  • Have a door champion or shop front ‘front of house’ person who can give directions within a large complex. A sign-board with clear directions may be less confronting than a security guard.
  • Offer to contact a family member or trusted person if someone is clearly disoriented and very confused, or call the police if you are unable to call a family member or friend.


  • Actively listen, acknowledge and reflect back what you are hearing using simple courteous language. Make it clear you have the time.
  • Avoid intrusive questions - acknowledging individuality and avoiding generalisations is a great start.
  • Observe, listen and be ready to offer assistance in a courteous manner by be-ing curious first e.g. “Excuse me, I am wondering if there is something I can do to assist you?”
  • Speak slower and/or louder if required but don’t assume reduced hearing equates to reduced cognitive function.
  • Avoid words and phrases like “invalid pensioner”, “love” and “dear”, which may appear overly familiar and possibly condescending. Feel free to use “Mrs”, “Ms” and “Mr” when addressing someone.
  • Introduce yourself every time you meet someone and wear a name badge.
  • Appoint a dignity champion to act as a role model for treating people with deep care and respect.
  • Use this person to influence and inform other staff.
  • Use eye contact where appropriate and/or go alongside the person so that you can face a document or issue side-by-side.
  • Elder abuse is a sensitive topic and some people won’t want to talk, or may not be able to, at the time. The Stop Elder Abuse campaign wallet card is a simple way to make sure people have information in a discreet form to refer to whenever it is appropriate.
  • If you suspect elder abuse, affirm the rights of the older person you are speak-ing with, refer them to appropriate support and provide them with the Stop Elder Abuse campaign wallet card.
  • You can also call the South Australian Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line on 1800 372 310, Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Trained staff will provide you with free, confidential, culturally sensitive advice, or you can leave a message and they will contact you.


  • Seek advice from Office for Ageing Well.
  • Engage with the Office for Ageing Well’s Feedback Network of over 3000 Seniors Card members to hear the voices of older people in the development and planning of projects and to inform research, design of products, services and policies.
  • Conduct service design and user experience consultations or engagements at a time when most older people use your service and during free public transport hours.
  • Build a question or two into existing forms or as part of the everyday service provision. Make sure you seek ‘age by decade’ in the data you collect.
  • Provide a variety of platforms for participation, including phone line, focus groups, paper, online surveys and community events.
  • Challenge language that is disrespectful.
  • Challenge the culture of ageism by ensuring staff training promotes positive im-ages of the diversity of older workers and older volunteers with language that is also positive.