GPs in Coventry and Rugby are urging people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours this winter and make sure they get the help they need.
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.
As part of Adult Safeguarding Week, which runs from 19-25 November, NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group are reminding people to keep an eye out for those who might need a little bit more support, and to not be afraid to offer to help
Dr James Burden, GP and local safeguarding lead says that when people think of safeguarding, they only think of the most serious cases, but actually there is a lot that people can do to support safeguarding in local communities.
“We often see elderly and vulnerable people who live alone becoming even more socially isolated as winter approaches and the cold weather keeps people inside. Sometimes this can lead to disaster, for example if they have a fall and are unable to call for help.
“If you have a friend, neighbour or relative who is vulnerable then you can do your bit to help by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter.”
Coventry and Rugby CCG has the following top tips for how to help elderly and vulnerable people you may know:
· Drop in to see them and check if they are well at least once a week – and more often if the weather turns very cold.
· Check if they are feeling well and don’t let them brush off your questions if you’re concerned they’re 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 health care adviser will be able to help them
· Make sure their home is heated to at least 18°C to 21°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.
· The easiest way to protect them from fire is by checking if they have working smoke alarms installed. If they don’t have a smoke alarm, call free on 0800 389 5525 for help and advice. (there are even specially-designed alarms for people who are deaf or who have hearing problems).
· If they get milk or other deliveries that don’t look like they have been taken inside or their bins haven’t been put out as normal, don’t delay, just pop over and make sure that everything is alright.
Dr Burden continued “We can all do our part as a community to help with safeguarding, and through keeping an eye on those who are more vulnerable. If you’re worried, try and contact the person or one of their relatives and explain your concerns. Don’t assume someone else will do it, five minutes of your time to check on someone could be life-saving.”