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Bank staff will be trained to spot signs of loneliness among elderly customers

The Junta de Andalucía and the Bank of Spain support the initiative

SUSANA ZAMORA

The Ministry of Equality, Social Policies and Conciliation, in an effort to help detect cases of loneliness – a feeling that 47 per cent of Andalucians over the age of 55 say they endure – has enlisted the help of banks.

The Junta has held a working group meeting with the Bank of Spain, Caixabank, Banco Santander, Cajasur-Kutxabank, Ibercaja, Caja Rural del Sur, BBVA, Fundación Cajasol and Unicaja Banco with the aim of offering preferential care to the elderly. Currently just under 18 per cent of the population of Andalucía are elderly and by 2040 that share will rise to 28.6 per cent.

Older people may suffer from a ‘digital gap’ which prevents them accessing or comfortably using many of the banks’ services which have increasingly moved online.

The working group, meeting collectively for the first time in 12 years, analysed the way bank staff are trained to assist elderly customers especially in rural areas. The group agreed that the Bank of Spain will provide training materials and workshops with the Active Participation Centres (CPA ) network in Andalucía which can reach 460,000 elderly people.

The Ministry of Equality has also provided training on the ‘Unwanted Loneliness Protocol’ so that bank staff can detect cases of unwanted social isolation among the elderly.

Councillor Rocío Ruiz said, “The Junta de Andalucía has a very ambitious challenge, which is none other than to reclaim the proximity and closeness of relationships that have always been part of the Andalusian character.”

Once a case is reported, the ‘Unwanted Loneliness Protocol’ provides for the preparation of a report confirming their isolation and an individualised intervention plan agreed upon with the elderly person. This could include face-to-face visits, telephone support and encouraging social participation and leisure activities.