The increasing use of self service systems in supermarkets can be highly challenging for people of all ages and capabilities. For someone living with dementia the self-service checkout can be horrific. In recent discussions by people living with dementia, I witnessed, a discussion about how a local convenience supermarket had decided to solely offer self-service checkouts. The discussion produced a high level of agreed dissatisfaction with the idea and most importantly the. Bemusing to all, was the loss of the helpful human being. What made the conversation worse is the supermarket in question is labelled as dementia friendly.
The till and its helpful operator appear to be so meaningful for people with dementia. You can ask them questions and without prompting they often ask questions too – ‘Do you need a bag today?’
What might be missed in these simple exchanges is that it is the small meaningful exchanges that can reassure people that they have the capacity to complete a task they have started, that they might get to speak to somebody and that you don’t need to avoid the shops just in case you are confronted by one of those confounded machines.