Torbay supermarket pilot to support carers rolls out nationally

Sainsbury’s is to train its staff to recognise shoppers with caring responsibilities in order to offer them support from health and community organisations.

Checkout staff at the supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, will be told to look out for customers who buy two lots of separate groceries, while pharmacist staff will speak to customers who collect prescriptions for other people. These customers may be ‘hidden carers’ who have caring responsibilities but do not recognise themselves as such, and staff will be encouraged to pass on information about the support that is available.

The initiative, which is a partnership with the Department of Health, follows a pilot scheme in south west England where a member of Torbay Care Trust was based in a Sainsbury’s store. Supermarket staff were able to identify and refer 140 customers to the trust who required help, and who were then able to sign a Carers Register to give them access to local assistance.

The scheme was judged a success and is now being rolled out nationally. Sainsbury’s is also supporting several carers’ charities to coincide with Carers Week, 13-19 June 2011.

Jacki Connor, Sainsbury’s colleague engagement director, said:

“All our stores play an active role in the communities they serve so we are delighted to announce this new initiative. Research shows that around 6.4 million people in the UK care for sick or disabled loved ones but many are not receiving the help and support they need. When we launched the trial in Torbay we learnt that not only were many of our customers carers but a number of our colleagues working in store too. Simple initiatives like this can make a big difference and we hope it will play a part in identifying thousands of hidden carers across the country.”

Paul Burstow, minister for care services said:

“I am delighted to support Sainsbury’s in this valuable work. We know that many people with caring responsibilities do not identify with being a carer – they see themselves first and foremost as a mother, father, son or daughter. This means they can miss out on accessing vital information, advice and support. Sainsbury’s work with Torbay Care Trust is a fantastic example of how business can link up with the public and voluntary sector to support carers within the local community.”