Stay warm and well this winter

Kirklees Council and health partners including the Clinical Commissioning Groups are working together to support a major drive by Public Health England and NHS England to help people ‘stay well this winter’.

The campaign kicks off with a national flu vaccination programme which sees the flu vaccine being offered for free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications including;  pregnant women, 2 to 4 year olds, under 65’s who are at risk due to a particular health condition, over 65’s or carers.

As well as protecting against flu, the stay well this winter campaign urges the public to:

  • keep warm – by heating their homes to least 18 degrees C or (65F)
  • if feeling unwell seek help from a pharmacist, quickly, before it gets more serious, even if it’s just a cough or a cold
  • stock up on any prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • always take prescribed medicines as directed
  • look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.

It’s known that treacherous conditions during the winter months can mean many people, particularly the elderly and frail, are unable to get out and buy food or pick up medication and have no family or friends nearby who could help.

Kirklees Council and partners have special arrangements to make sure that those who are most vulnerable and at risk receive the help they need in times of prolonged adverse weather conditions – such as snow or a deep freeze.

This includes the council opening up an emergency weather telephone line 01484 414888 which will be widely advertised.

Kirklees Council Gateway to care, health colleagues and volunteers will then provide an emergency call to the most vulnerable people of Kirklees who may be experiencing difficulty with shopping for daily essentials or who may have run out of medication.  Council and health staff volunteers will support anyone who is identified as vulnerable because of the weather conditions.

Even people who are normally quite mobile and self-sufficient should prepare for colder weather.  Good ways to stay warm, safe and healthy this winter include: wearing several thin layers of clothing, taking regular hot meals and drinks, and moving around; stocking up on any medicines and having a good store of tinned, dry or frozen foods.

It is also a good idea to keep a list of emergency numbers including NHS 111, GP surgery, dentist and a local plumber, electrician and handyman and finding out if local shops and chemists will deliver to your home.

Carers can also benefit from planning ahead.  If they don’t live near to the person they care for they could arrange an internet shop for them or ask a neighbour or friend to pop in if they can’t get there.

As the darker nights draw in it is worth trying and keep to well-lit areas, stay alert and avoid using expensive items like ipods and mobile phones when out in the open. To reduce the risk of burglary doors and windows should be kept locked.  More advice can be found at  www.westyorkshire.police.uk/burglary

Up to date with weather, school closures and gritting action can be found online at www.kirklees.gov.uk/winter or by following @kirkleeswinter.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Kirklees Council, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said: “We are asking people to look out for their vulnerable neighbours, to call in and say hello and to check if they need anything. Older people can sometimes go days without seeing or talking to anyone, and we can all do our bit to help. A friendly face of someone they know can make all the difference. It’s very reassuring to know that someone cares and will take the time to offer help and support. As a council we have contingency plans in place to identify friends, relatives and neighbours who may be available to help us keep people safe, warm and fed. It’s amazing the difference we can make when we all pull together in our communities to help those most vulnerable in the bad weather”.

Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG said: “It’s critical that we do what we can to help others stay well. Older people make up the largest group admitted to hospital in the winter.  Half live alone and one third never or only occasionally socialise with family or friends.  They can sometimes delay asking for help when they become unwell and so become more ill as a result.  This is a golden opportunity for us to look out for our neighbours and make sure they get any help they need.”

Dr David Kelly, local GP and Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG added: “Winter is an extremely busy time of year for NHS services, so we want to remind people that if they are ill to use the right services.

“Make sure you have plenty of medical supplies in the house, for example some simple pain-killers, a paediatric paracetamol mixture for children and an adequate supply of any regular medications you or your family are being prescribed by your doctor.

“Remember, your local pharmacy can give advice on a wide range of conditions and can help.  For simple accidents like sprains, you don’t always need to go to your GP practice.”

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