Last winter, an estimated 31,000 people in England died as a result of cold weather – most of them over 75. Research suggests that many of these deaths could have been avoided.
This year, the NHS Choices Winter Friends campaign aims to get 100,000 people to sign a pledge to “take time out this winter to look in on an elderly friend or neighbour to make sure they are warm and coping well”.
One of the first to sign the pledge is the actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who said that: “A little help really does go a long way. You will also find, I’m sure, that giving a bit of your time in this way is hugely rewarding.
“Older people can be physically frail, but they have a lifetime’s wisdom and experience to share. That’s why I’m proud to lend my support to the NHS Winter Friends Pledge.”
Some ways to be a Winter Friend
Drop in on an older neighbour or friend once a week – more often if it turns very cold.
Pick up a Talk Before You Walk leaflet from your GP and use it to explain to your neighbour how to get the most appropriate help when needed, whether it’s calling the NHS 111 service, talking to a pharmacist or their GP, going to hospital or calling 999.
Check their home is warm enough – around 21°C (70°F) for the living area and about 18°C (65°F) for bedrooms.
See if they are receiving their Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments.
Make sure they’re eating well
and have some non-perishable foods, such as tinned meals and soups that they can heat up if they can’t leave the house for a few days.
If they’re over 65 and haven’t had their free flu jab, maybe give them a lift to their doctor.
For the full list of NHS Choices ideas on how to be a Winter Friend and more about the Winter Friends Pledge visit the campaign website: www.nhs.uk/livewell/winterhealth/.