Facilities management service provider, OCS, is launching a new hidden disabilities initiative at centre:mk in Milton Keynes.
It is thought 18 per cent of the population has a hidden disability, so with this in mind, OCS says the initiative will be rolled out to make the centre as “inclusive as possible”.
Paul Thrupp, Director of Retail Destinations at OCS commented: “We work closely with our retail clients to understand the needs their customers have and how we can support them in ensuring that every visitor has a positive experience. It is fundamental for customers to be supported in our sites, regardless of the visibility of their needs. A physical disability is just as important to support as a mental disability, so we must treat all with equal levels of emotional intelligence and respect.”
Staff across the shopping location will be trained to recognise the importance of providing customer support to those who need it the most. The training includes:
- Being flexible on timings to allow customers extended browsing time before deciding on a purchase
- Identifying when a customer may need to bypass the queue in busy stores
- Providing further information when the centre is exceptionally busy
- Offering quieter shopping times with music
- Being consciously aware of body language and physical signs of distress
Kevin Duffy, Centre Director at centre:mk said: “Working with OCS on this initiative fits perfectly with our “Open to all” strategy, our ongoing programme and consultation with local disability groups to make the shopping experience more supportive and comfortable for people with disabilities. With shoppers looking increasingly at retail centres for experiences rather than just shopping, it is down to us to ensure that all customers are supported, however and whenever they visit our sites.”