Carers' guide to winter health and safety

This is our mid-winter reminder, that it's never too late to start looking after ourselves! As carers, not only does our health matter for us, but also for our ability to continue providing care. We're a big deal!

Here's our top tips for staying safe and healthy through those cold, wet, dark months!

Keeping Carers' Healthy

1. Take our meds!

A vitamin D supplement is recommended through winter, as we seldom make enough naturally. Supplements are available from supermarkets, pharmacies and even Amazon, and the NHS offer advice on vitamin D dosage. Supplements are not suitable for everyone, so please do check with your GP or consult the NHS advice on how to take Vitamin D safely.

It's also been linked with the potential to improve our resilience to coronavirus. If you're on the clinically extremely vulnerable list, you can access free Vitamin D supplements via the NHS.

Top Tip

By setting an alarm we can remind ourselves to take our vitamin D supplement at a time convenient to us. And if we can get outside for some winter sun, then an added bonus, with many other benefits.

A photo of a frosty forest, with the sunshine peeking through in a blue sky

2. Get our jabs!

Make sure we're registered as a 'carer' with our GP surgery.

Firstly, have you had your flu jab? As a carer, we're entitled to a free flu jab every winter. There is more detail about free flu vaccinations on the NHS website.

The NHS have confirmed that it is safe to have our flu vaccine, even if we have had Coronavirus. And it will help to prevent us from then catching the flu.

We all know how much harder it is to carry on providing care, when we're ill ourselves - plus it's just plain horrible being ill!

Top Tip:

Make sure we are registered as a carer at our GP surgery. Do it today!

3. Look after our minds

Just as important as our physical health, is our emotional health. Bad weather, shorter days, lack of support and so on, are making support for our emotional wellbeing of paramount importance.

We have shared many wellbeing tools, including a helpful 'daily wellbeing habits tracker', to help us to embed daily good habits. Commit to one small thing daily, to support your emotional health.

Image of a google sheets, with a daily habits tracker. Includes getting outside, three things to be grateful for and connecting with family and friends

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Keeping Carers Safe

There are some simple things we can do, to reduce the risk of injury to ourselves over the winter months:

1. Get gritty

Make sure to have a supply of salt or grit, to sprinkle over our pathways and outside our home. The Government have a handy guide on how to grit effectively.

Statistics from the Government showed that in 2014/15, there were 2,919 people admitted to hospital after slipping on ice or snow. The age group most at risk were those between 60-69 years old.

2. Stay warm

It is recommended that homes stay at a minimum of 18 degrees, with respiratory illnesses such as asthma becoming worse in colder environments.

Our blog on financial support for keeping warm over winter is a helpful starting point. With details on warm home discounts, cold weather payments and winter fuel payments.

An average of 9,700 deaths each year are believed to be caused by living in a cold house. So please do access financial support if you need it.

(Source: research by National Energy Action (NEA) and the environmental group E3G.)

3. Light it up

With reduced daylight hours, it's helpful to make sure we have ample outside lights, especially along pathways and stairs. And to ensure we're stocked up on spare bulbs!

A few torches dotted around the house, can save a whole heap of trouble in the event of a power cut!

Photo of a torch,lying on a blue wooden table, with its light on

And if we do need support?

If a slip, fall or emotional meltdown does happen, don't panic. There is support for us.

Minor illnesses

Our Pharmacy can help with an array of minor illnesses. As qualified health practitioners (who train for five years in the use of medicine), our pharmacist can give clinical advice and over the counter medicines. We can find out more in this NHS guide.

Medical emergencies

GP's, NHS 111, minor injury clinics and Accident and Emergency are open for medical emergencies. Pack masks, hand sanitiser and any supplies we may need for ourselves and our cared for.

Emotional Struggles

We are here for you. You can always book an individual support call with our carer support team. Including appointments in the evenings and over weekends.

Or simply reach out in our supportive Facebook community.

If you are in immediate crisis, you can also access:

Samaritans: Available 24 hours a day by phone

Shout: available 24 hours a day via text

Text SHOUT to 85258