Take care of yourself as well as your relatives and neighbours this winter

With the festive season ahead and the expectation of colder weather, it’s useful for everyone to remind themselves of some key tips to look after themselves and stay healthy. It’s also an important time to give an extra look out for elderly relatives and neighbours to check they are okay.

Deborah Fielding, Chief Executive Officer Lead, Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) commented:

“Health, social care and many other partner organisations across Hertfordshire and west Essex have been working together this winter to be prepared so they can meet demand, and also share vital health and well-being information with the local population, especially those who are more vulnerable.”

Cabinet Member for Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, Richard Roberts, said: “Cold and wintry conditions, combined with shorter days, can make many of us feel poorly. However, with a few simple precautions, most people can be ready for the really cold weather and avoid much of the misery associated with it.

“That’s why we are keen to remind people of a few tips to stay well this winter and would encourage everyone to share these with friends, family and neighbours.”

Top 10 tips for staying healthy this winter:

  1. Have the flu vaccine: it’s free to the over 65s, those with serious medical conditions, carers and pregnant women. Contact your GP or practice nurse or pharmacist (most pharmacies offer jabs free on the NHS). The nasal spray is offered free for young children, visit www.nhs.uk/flu for details. If you are not in one of these groups you can get one for around £10 at many supermarkets.
  2. Heat your home to at least 18C/65F, it can help minimise health risks.  If heating your whole home is a problem, heat your living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go up to sleep.
  3. If you can, get up and move around.  If your mobility is limited, do some chair exercises to help you stay warm and active.
  4. Good grips: if you need to go outside wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles.
  5. Hot food and warm drinks: Keep well fed and hydrated. Soup and fruit are useful and drink lots of water as well as warm drinks.
  6. Stock up on basics like soup, tinned fish, long life milk and medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen in case you can’t get out of your home for a couple of days.
  7. Undertake energy efficiency improvements to your home - or encourage your landlord to do so.
  8. Keep a list of useful and emergency contacts by your phone – also add local organisations and charities who support older people. A list of useful contacts in Hertfordshire is available on the HertsHelp website, or for those in west Essex visit the livewell website. 
  9. Look out for friends and neighbours, particularly the elderly, those with existing health conditions and young children.
  10. Keep tissues with you and use them to catch coughs or sneezes - then bin them and kill the germs by washing your hands.

In Hertfordshire, if you are struggling to stay warm in your home this winter, or are worried about a friend, neighbour or relative who might be at risk, HertsHelp can help you find out about support that may be available. They can also signpost people to a variety of services which can help with general health and wellbeing and useful groups to avoid social isolation.  Call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net

Within west Essex, all the livewell partners are working in collaboration to support the national ‘Help Us Help You - Stay well this Winter’ campaign by delivering key health and well-being through joint social media messages using the hashtag #staywellessex. The livewell website has also compiled some useful information, tips and local initiatives and advice from Public Health and NHS England, local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and health agencies to help you and your family stay well this winter. http://bit.ly/2Dhaqr5

It’s also important to go to the right place for help.

Dr Amik Aneja, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care, NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, commented:

Pharmacists can provide advice on how to treat many common health conditions so your local pharmacy is a great place to seek early help. Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can talk in confidence.

“GP and nurse appointments can now be made during the evening and weekends for those who need them so do ask about these if you need. For an illness that just won't go away, visit or phone your GP or practice nurse, or call the NHS on 111 for advice. NHS 111 is a one stop shop that can offer self-care advice, as well as onward referrals if these are needed so you get to the most appropriate service.”

“Minor injuries units and urgent care centres treat a range of injuries like sprains, cuts, bites, minor burns or scalds.”

A&E is for life-threatening situations such as heart attack or stroke and for people with symptoms of serious illness or who are badly injured. In an emergency, always dial 999.

General advice on staying well this winter is available at www.nhs.uk/staywell.

More information and advice on winter health can be found at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/winterhealth