31 January 2019

Caring for older residents during cold weather

Every care home will have its own policy on cold weather. However, it's important to use your initiative. An important element of this is ensuring that you are able to recognise where there may be a heating issue and how to act on it swiftly and appropriately. 

During cold weather, all care staff should check on residents to ensure they are warm enough in both daytime and the evening. 

Residents should be encouraged to wrap up in warm clothing and to have plenty of hot food and drinks. Staff should monitor room temperatures and ensure the care home is kept warm, particularly communal living rooms and bedrooms.

The Cold Weather Plan recommends indoor temperatures of at least 18°C (65°F) in winter. It states that this threshold is particularly important for over 65s or those with pre-existing medical conditions, and having temperatures slightly above this threshold for these people may be beneficial for health. It also recommends maintaining these temperatures overnight for at-risk people.

Residents should be advised to stay inside during the coldest weather to avoid slips and falls, and only make trips outside if they are essential. If they go outside they should be encouraged to wear appropriate warm clothing.

 In Public Health England's plan, Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies, said:

"Cold-related deaths represent the biggest weather-related source of mortality. Although temperatures are gradually rising with climate change, cold weather deaths are still expected to be high by 2050, due to the ageing and increasing population. So we are going to need the guidance in these pages to protect the public from the effects of cold for many years to come."

The government's Cold Weather Plan can be located here. 

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