OCS: Pioneers of the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme

Now Globally Recognised: Sunflower Lanyard Scheme

The Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, initially launched at Gatwick Airport by OCS Group to assist passengers with hidden disabilities, has been successfully adopted in airports globally. This innovative initiative, which began as a trial over the summer, has significantly enhanced the travel experience for thousands of passengers and their families worldwide with hidden disabilities such as dementia, autism, or hearing loss.

Discreet recognition

Introducing these distinctive lanyards lets travellers discreetly inform airport teams of their need for tailored assistance. The lanyard ensures they receive the proper support throughout their journey, such as extra time for processing information or preparing belongings before security screening. OCS assistance teams across the UK and globally have undergone specialised training to recognise and appropriately respond to these lanyards.

This scheme is part of a broader initiative by OCS Group, which provides assistance services at multiple airports across the UK & Ireland and globally. The initiative was informed by the “Challenging for Change” report, which captured the experiences of passengers with disabilities and suggested improvements. Follow-up workshops facilitated dialogue and idea exchange among airlines, airport operators, baggage handlers, disability groups, and support service providers.

Charity Partnership & Collaboration

Key UK charities like the Alzheimer’s Society, The National Autistic Society, and Action on Hearing Loss have collaborated with Gatwick Airport and OCS Group in this endeavour. At launch, Nikki Barton, Head of Terminals and Passenger Assistance at Gatwick, highlighted the scheme’s role in reducing travel stress for passengers with hidden disabilities and the importance of training for frontline teams in enhancing passenger experiences.

OCS Group has 60 years of expertise in the aviation sector and their commitment to excellence for passengers needing additional assistance. The lanyard scheme, born from extensive consultations with disability groups, aims to minimise misinterpretations of the specific needs associated with hidden disabilities.

Specialist Colleague Training

The lanyard scheme’s rollout was supported by comprehensive training, with NVQ Level 2 training in dementia care now standard for OCS teams in the departure lounges. Numerous Dementia Friends Champions have been trained across the airports to further the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme.

Sue Rennie, Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager for West Sussex North, said, “People with dementia and their family carers often find travelling daunting when faced with unfamiliar and busy airports. The lanyard scheme for passengers with hidden disabilities introduced at Gatwick offers reassurance to those who use it. It also helps airport teams know that they may require additional support, which can improve the passengers’ travel experience at the airport.”