Doctors in Devon are asking people to look in on their elderly relatives, neighbours and friends now that the cold weather is setting in.
As part of the national ‘Winter Friends’ NHS Choices campaign, Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) has launched a short film to encourage people to keep an eye out for the elderly over the cold months.
The film was produced with the help of Devon Senior Voice and reminds people to check in on senior citizens and make sure they keep warm, do not feel lonely and are coping well.
The film, which can be viewed on NEW Devon CCG’s YouTube channel (click here), has been chosen to feature on the national NHS Choices website.
Last winter, about 31,000 people in England died as a result of cold weather. Most of these people were over 75 and many of these deaths could have been avoided.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of older people spend much of the winter alone and lonely.
But, as the film reminds viewers, it doesn't have to be this way.
Dr Richard Mejzner, a GP from Devon, said: “It is very important, especially as the winter weather sets in, that we all take time out to look in on our elderly friends or neighbours to make sure they are warm and coping well.
“This film is a great visual reminder that we can all play a part in helping the more vulnerable people.
“But being a Winter Friend does not stop when winter ends. Older people need our support, care and friendship all year round.
“Pledging to be a Winter Friend is fantastic, but it is not just for winter.”
NHS Choices is aiming to get 100,000 people to sign the Winter Friends pledge this winter.
Everyone who signs the pledge will get free cold weather alerts and email tips throughout the winter to help them do their bit.
When the cold weather sets in you can make a difference by looking in on a neighbour who is elderly or vulnerable.
Here are a few tips for Winter Friends:
- Make sure older people have enough food including plenty of tinned meals and soups which they can heat up in case they can't leave the house for a few days.
- Check their home is warm enough. The main living area should be around 21°C (70°F) and bedrooms should be 18°C (65°F).
- If they are worried about the costs of heating, check they are receiving their heating bill benefits, such as Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.
- If there are draughts, you may be able to help plug them.
- Many older people take medicines and everyone over 65 should have a free flu jab. Ask if there is anything you can do to help – picking up a prescription or giving them a lift to their GP, for instance. If you are unwell yourself, take real care not to pass it on.
To view the NEW Devon CCG film on Winter Friends click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMlRmM1Pru0