Finland's postal service is to offer an "outdoor buddy" scheme for older people, in its latest bid to diversify as mail volumes fall.
The state-owned Posti company says that - for a price - its workers will take elderly people out of the house for walks, something they might otherwise feel unsafe doing alone. It says some people spend days indoors if they don't have anyone to accompany them outside, particularly in slippery winter conditions. "The purpose is to bring vitality and conversation to the elderly. The outdoor buddy helps clients to maintain their ability to move," says head of home services Petri Kokkola.
The company is trying to boost falling revenues by providing more than just delivery services. In April, it announced that its workers would be available to mow lawns during the summer.
Staff will receive training from elderly care specialists before becoming a buddy, but they won't provide any kind of professional physical therapy. Buddy walks can be arranged once or twice a week from January, but they don't come cheap - four visits of 30 minutes cost 69 euros ($73; £58).
While Posti tries to find new ways to make money, some Finns commenting on the company's Facebook page feel it should focus on its main purpose. One accuses the company of "cashing in on the elderly", and another asks: "Shouldn't Posti first check if their basic services work before branching out into other stuff?" Several users agree, with one writing: "Don't start cutting lawns and taking people outdoors until you learn to take packages to the correct addresses!"
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