Late last year a group of people from central Stirling visited the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Drip Road to evaluate their experience of the store environment and surrounding neighbourhood.
Most of the participants were aged 75 years and older and live with age-related impairments, including limited mobility, hearing difficulty, and memory issues. The place assessment session was facilitated by volunteers from the Our Connected Neighbourhoods project and, was structured using the ‘Public Indoor Environment‘ questionnaire and included our own ‘lightweight‘ version of Health Scotland’s, ‘Place Standard Tool‘.
The group provided very positive feedback on the majority of features raised in the discussions, with many individuals offering helpful on where small changes could make a big difference to their experience of visiting this branch of Sainsbury’s.
Some examples of the feedback
Access and layout
The store is easy to get to, especially by car when the dry drop off and pick-up area is appreciated. Access by foot is good but improvements to nearby pedestrian crossings on the public road would be helpful for those with mobility issues. Overall the store itself was praised as being well designed, well-lit and well laid out. Physical accessibility was considered to be excellent.
Overall, the relative quiet and calming interior was welcomed. However, louder noise levels such as in the café area can cause difficulty with conversation, reduced ability to concentrate, and often increased levels of stress. Although the group felt that the loudspeakers in the store are not used excessively, when they are used, they were thought to came on abruptly, physically startling several people, especially those with dementia. A soft ‘jingle’ in advance of announcements was suggested to help with this.
Signage and visibility
The signage was considered to be good, but that some small improvements could make a big difference for some people. More signage pointing to the toilets would be helpful; and ensuring that the toilets seats are contrasting with their backgrounds, for example, would make them easier to use for people with sight impairments or dementia.
Although the formal evaluation focussed on the physical environment, the group spontaneously went out of their way praise the staff and managers, noting how much of a positive impact this has had on their experience of shopping in the store.
“The staff at Sainsbury’s are excellent …… they are always really helpful and seem to just know how to assist people with different needs. They are welcoming, and you never feel rushed. They slow down and give you more time if you need it”.
The feedback from the overall group was collated, summarised, then shared with Sainsbury’s earlier this year. The Drip Road store managers immediately set about implementing some of the group’s suggestions on signage and noise in the local store. They have since also shared the OCN group’s feedback with other Sainsbury’s so that managers, staff, and customers in other parts of the country may benefit from it.