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.
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.
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!
As carers, we're in priority group 6 for receiving the Coronavirus vaccination. This likely will mean we're not eligible until the Summer months, but, there are some instances where GPs are vaccinating carers alongside their cared for. Or if you are older or have an underlying health condition, you may be eligible sooner. You can read our full 'Carers' guide to the Covid-19 vaccine' here.
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Make sure you are registered as a carer at your GP surgery! Do it today :)
3. Look after our minds
Just as important as our physical health, is our emotional health. Lockdown, bad weather, anxiety over the virus, 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.
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Commit to one small thing daily, to support your emotional health. You could use our wellbeing daily habit tracker, to get you started.
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 you have a supply of salt or grit, to sprinkle over your pathways and outside your home. The government have a handy guide on how to grit effectively.
The latest stats 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.)
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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!
And if we do need support?
If a slip, fall or emotional meltdown does happen, don't panic. There is support for us. Even in a pandemic.
Your Pharmacy can help with an array of minor illnesses. As qualified health practitioners (who train for 5 years in the use of medicine!), your pharmacist can give clinical advice and over the counter medicines. You can find out more in this NHS guide.
GP's, NHS 111, minor injury clinics and Accident and Emergency are still open for medical emergencies. Remember to pack a mask, hand sanitiser and any supplies you may need for yourself and your cared for.
We are here for you. You can always book a 1:1 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're 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