Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group is urging people to look out for elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours this winter, and make sure they have the support they need during the winter months.
Older people and those with long-term health conditions are particularly susceptible to illness and isolation at this time of year, yet it can sometimes be difficult for those at risk to admit they need help.
“Winter is a time when communities should come together to support people in need and encourage them to seek medical assistance before illness becomes so serious they need to be admitted to hospital,” says Sarah Southall, Deputy Chief Nurse, Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group.
All too often elderly and vulnerable people end up in hospital for lengthy stays with symptoms that might not have become so serious and could have been managed at home if only they’d sought and received help.
“This is often as a result of people trying to push on through adversity because they don’t want to cause inconvenience to their families with something they feel is insignificant. However, for those people aged 75 or over, or with long-term conditions such as a respiratory illness, it is important not to wait when you feel ill – you should get help straightaway,” explains Sarah.
Local pharmacists are a great source of advice and will be able to recommend an over the counter medicine to alleviate your symptoms or tell you if you need to see your GP.
“If you have a friend, neighbour or relative who is vulnerable you can do your bit by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter,” adds Sarah.
Lincolnshire East CCG has come up with the following tips on how to help elderly and/or vulnerable people you might know:
- Drop in to see them and check if they are well at least once a week – more often if the weather turns cold
- Check they are feeling well and don’t let them brush off your questions if you are concerned they are trying to hide an illness, particularly if they don’t seem their usual self or they look unwell
- If they are feeling ill, encourage them to visit their local pharmacist without delay and give them a lift if you can
- Ask if you can collect any prescriptions they need or take them to their GP for any appointments
- Tell them to call 111 if they feel unwell when pharmacies are closed – a trained NHS healthcare adviser will be able to help
- Make sure their home is heated to at least 18-21 degrees C throughout the winter
- Ensure they are eating well and have a good supply of essential and store cupboard food to keep them going, and offer to help them with shopping if they struggle with mobility
- Encourage them to get heating and cooking appliances safety checked – and recommend a trustworthy gas and heating engineer or electrician if you know one
- If it snows clear their path, front steps or doorway areas for them – or better still, encourage them to stay in
For more information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell