Check on neighbours as snow settles in Gloucestershire

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge

AS SNOW continues to hit all parts of the county today, Gloucestershire County Council is reminding people to check on the older and more vulnerable people in our communities.

The Village and Community Agents will be getting out and about more than usual, checking people are comfortable, warm and well supplied with food and drink, but being a good neighbour becomes even more important when the wintry weather takes a grip.

In the cold and snow, people tend to be less active because of a fear of falling, resulting in people getting too cold. It can also mean they can't get out to go shopping, so it's important to make sure they have enough supplies to last. You can also help by making sure that paths are cleared and well salted.

The county council's home support workers and independent care providers are also making every effort to provide care to the people who need them most, ensuring they are safe, warm and well fed.

In areas that are impossible to reach, arrangements are being made to keep people safe, as county council staff work with families, carers, partner agencies and health professionals to maintain a service.

WRVS, who cook and deliver hot meals on behalf of the county council, have been working hard to ensure the wellbeing of the older and vulnerable people they deliver to.

Both WRVS kitchens (in Stonehouse and Cheltenham) are open and cooking and a near normal service is currently operating across the county. Those people who cannot be reached are being contacted to ensure they are safe and have enough food.

Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Andrew Gravells, said: "When the weather takes a turn for the worse, people need to look out for each other and check on their elderly neighbours. This is particularly important for those who don't have family living nearby and that might be cut off in rural areas, but people in busy towns can feel isolated too.

"We would ask milkmen and postmen to check on people they know might need help on their rounds. It can be very lonely for people who can normally get out and about but who are temporarily housebound - just knowing that someone is there to help if necessary can remove a lot of worry and anxiety."

For more advice on how to be a good neighbour and staying well this winter, look at the 'Keep Warm and Well' pages on www.warmandwell.co.uk If you have any concerns about an older or vulnerable person, contact the county council's Adult Helpdesk on 01452 426868.

For 24 hour health advice,NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 46 47 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk Helping people in the cold: • Encourage people to use a blanket or rug or wear a dressing gown and drink hot drinks to keep warm while sitting. If someone seems less with-it than usual, it could be that the cold is affecting them - get more advice from NHS Direct if necessary.

• Make sure paths are cleared and well salted. Many older people are worried about falling on icy roads and paths and shopping is difficult, so check elderly neighbours have enough food and milk to last over the snowy period.

• Wrap up warm, inside and out. Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

• Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (64-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.

• Checkportable gas heaters are safe.

• Make sure there is a supply of fuel within safe reach.

• If people have regular medication, ensure they have sufficient stock to get them through the cold period. If anyone is uneasy leaving home to collect medication, they can contact the local pharmacy as most offer a collection service.

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