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Cabin Crew assume a different role
KLM’s Cabin Crew Management division recently initiated cooperation with the Eduard Douwes Dekker Home (EDD), a nursing home in Amsterdam. However, EDD is not just a nursing home for the elderly, it’s a place where care for elderly people with a disability goes hand in hand with the reintegration of our cabin crew colleagues.
Vice President Cabin Crew Management Peter Overdijk joined a KLM delegation visiting the EDD. In this blog, he gives an enthusiastic account of this special home.
“The idea for a reintegration centre came from one of our colleagues, whose grandmother lives at the home. She noticed that there was a great need for volunteers and realised this might be the perfect place for our crew to be of added value when temporarily not in a position to fly.
The Eduard Douwes Dekker Home (EDD) is located in Amsterdam-North and is home to 200 elderly people with physical or mental disabilities. The home has a great need for volunteers who supplement the available care with extra attention for residents, improving their general well-being.
KLM only has a limited number of alternative workplaces suitable for staff who can only work a couple of hours a week. At the EDD, however, you’re already doing meaningful work if you take someone out for an hour’s walk, or spend some time reading to them, or help them paint their nails.
On arrival, we were welcomed by colleagues who immediately shared their experiences with us. Wonderful stories all round, making it clear that this place has a positive impact on the residents and our employees alike. The job may not be suitable for all, but it does tally with a large group of colleagues who are on restricted deployment. The work at the home utilises the core qualities of our cabin crew: caring, helpful, sensitive, creative and willing to give others memorable experiences.
The location manager explained how pleased she and the other staff at the EDD are to be getting help from our colleagues. This really has given a great impulse to the theme of ‘Dignity and Pride’. A perfect match!
In terms of the work itself, procedures clearly bear the mark of KLM Cabin Crew. The working method on board is applied to these activities as well. For example, there’s a briefing, special information about the residents is taken into account and there’s a service schedule providing information that helps staff prepare for the work they’re going to do. And, above all, staff are encouraged to make use of their talents.
Tears in our eyes
I was deeply moved by the response from the residents we met. One lady I spoke to had been able to attend her grandson’s wedding thanks to the help of one of our colleagues. Another resident said she loved going out more regularly now. And there was a lovely gentleman who explained that he was in a lot of pain, having suffered nine strokes. He combats the pain by exercising in the gym. The regular staff only have time to accompany him on two workouts a week, but our colleague has stepped in to accompany him on two further workouts, which has really reduced the pain. He thanked me no fewer than three times, his eyes filling with tears, as did mine. It was a very special visit indeed and will remain forever etched in my memory.”