Doncaster Voices: How can we protect Doncaster's elderly in winter weather?
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DR DAVID CRICHTON, BENTLEY GP & CHAIR OF NHS DONCASTER CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUP
Winter can be particularly lonely time for elderly people as the short daylight hours and cooler temperatures mean they don’t always get visitors dropping in. Isolation and in particular loneliness is a common social problem and a significant risk factor for depression, so my request - please be a good neighbour and keep a regular check on any elderly people who live nearby. It’s useful to have the phone numbers of any friends and relatives of theirs in case of problems. Older people are at risk of hypothermia, so check to make sure they have a warm living area at home and they are wearing layers of clothing if they still feel cold. Keeping active by moving around the house and doing chores will also help stay warm and maintain mobility. Plenty of hot drinks and food will also help. And last, but not least, please make sure your elderly friends and relatives have had a flu jab – it’s a vital preventative measure.
MARIE BOARDMAN, WELDRICKS PHARMACIST, THE PARADE, ARMTHORPE
One of the most important things we can do is to make sure that the elderly get their flu jab at either their GP practice or one of our Doncaster pharmacies if that is more convenient. Elderly people are classed as ‘at risk’ as they often have underlying conditions such as respiratory illnesses that make them much more susceptible to the virus and the flu jab is free for anyone aged over 65. They can also use their community pharmacy to get help and advice directly in branch or over the phone and they can use our minor ailments or medicine use review services to ensure they remain healthy. And, if the weather gets bad and older people can’t get out of their house, our delivery service can really help. We’re happy to help and spend time with people whenever they need us particularly older people who may feel isolated and lonely; that’s what we’re here for.
FRANKS ARROWSMITH, EDLINGTON MAYOR
With the onset of winter weather our senior citizens are quite vulnerable following the drop-in temperature we can all help by giving practicable advice and support to our family members or neighbours by encouraging them to wear extra layers of clothing, excises if supported by GP with walks weather permitting. Now’s the time for hot food and hot drinks follow a healthy diet with plenty of nutrients and vitamins. We can also help by carrying out basic household checks on draught proofing, suitable winter curtains and checking loft and cavity wall insulation noting that grants might be available if work is required. With heating bills forever rising our elderly should take advantage of using local community centres and Libraries, very well heated venues with the added bonus of social interactions to break periods of isolation and saving on heating bills. It’s also helpful to have a full welfare benefit check carried out.
MARK ASHLEY, DONCASTER RESIDENT
There are a few problems with Doncaster hospital that is supposed to be Doncaster. They bring people from Grimsby and Rotherham to Doncaster. I’ve been there a few times and people told me where they come from. Wards need more nurses.not contract nurses. The A and E does not seem to have enough doctors when its busy, thus causing waiting hours well over four hours. This government is to blame. The board should be made up by Doncaster people, who have more say as to how its run. The council itself wastes cash instead of helping Mexborough Hospital. Funds should be made so it can reopen its wards again instead of wards stood there being wasted. This opening would be see less pressure on Doncaster hospital that‘s a very old building and outdated. There should be a ward specially made for older people to stay instead of causing bed-blocking as they can‘t move them out as no place to put them. A lot of care homes in Doncaster have been closed.
MEL HEWITT, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER XP SCHOOL
Winter can bring with it horrendous dilemmas for those feel the cold acutely and need to keep warm to stay healthy.
There are many agencies and volunteers who work extremely hard to help the most vulnerable members of our community, but it is the responsibility of all of us to step in and step up.
Many people already know what they need to do to stay warm, but may not have the wherewithal to do it. Heating, lighting, hot water, cooked food – the things that cost money - can often be the things that are ‘switched off’ as the
cold and the cost of keeping warm begin to bite.
So, if there’s a key service, benefit or support group it needs to be shouted about and/or the information passed on to those who need to know. As individuals we can check on our neighbours - as loneliness as well as cold is
a silent killer in the dark winter months.
BILL MORRISON, EAST DONCASTER DEVELOPMENT TRUSTEES CHAIR
Keeping the elderly warm this winter is a responsibility shared by us all. A good neighbour scheme is a way forward. Pop round and make sure they have warm drinks and a hot meal. If you have a spare duvet pass it on, it will keep them
warm in bed and they can snuggle in it to watch the telly. Duvets are relatively cheap and versatile so treat an elderly person this Christmas. The agencies including the Local Authority must make an even greater push to be aware of
all those in need of warmth this winter. I know it’s a big ask but care companies should work alongside the LA to raise awareness, you and I can help by alerting those who can help, to any vulnerable elderly people within our
neighbourhoods. More importantly remember not just for Christmas but all year round. One day it could be you.
*If you would like your voice heard, get in touch, email [email protected] with 150 words, name and title and a photograph of yourself. Next week’s subject is: How best can we protect Doncaster’s elderly in winter weather? Following subjects are:
7/12 What are Doncaster‘s hidden gems we should shout loud about?
14/12 What parking plan would best serve Doncaster residents & visitors? 21/12 Does Doncaster’s night time economy receive undeserved bad press?
28/12 How can we market Doncaster area attractions better for tourism?