Winter is known to be a particularly stressful time for care workers. You have the added pressure of Christmas and catering for your family, while it’s also a time of year where your clients can be more vulnerable to illness – which means you can, too.
Viruses and bugs are far more likely to spread during the colder months, so when you’re providing care to vulnerable people, you’ll want to be sure you’re staying healthy and fit to prevent the spread of bugs – and from being unable to work yourself.
In this guide, we’ve created an eight point winter checklist for carers to help you provide better care, as well as staying healthy and looking after your own well-being.
Above all, make sure you have the correct carers insurance in place to cover you against the hazards of working within social care.
1. Get Your Flu Vaccination
The flu virus kills 11,000 people (and hospitalizes even more) every year. Protect yourself and the person you care for by getting yourself booked in, whether you’re a paid carer, PA, or unpaid carer.
The flu jab is also free on the NHS for anyone receiving Carer’s Allowance, and you can get it at your local GP, pharmacies and some hospitals.
You will also be eligible if you are the primary carer for someone that’s otherwise unable to look after themselves.
All adult social care workers, including PAs, are also eligible for a free flu vaccination from your GP practice. If you are asked to provide proof, you’ll simply need to show a letter from your employer if you’re a self-employed care worker, your ID badge, or perhaps a payslip.
2. Stay Warm
This is a simple point that might sound like common sense, but it’s far too easy to leave yourself exposed to illnesses by simply not wrapping up well enough. If you will be spending time outdoors or going from one house to another, it’s important to keep yourself warm.
This is especially important this year as many people are refraining from turning the heating on as often in order to keep cost down amidst the cost of living crisis.
A few handy tips for staying wrapped up warm include wearing several loose layers of clothing. This is generally more effective than one big chunky layer as the trapped air in between the layers helps keep you warm while wicking away sweat.
Now might be time to dust off the thermal underwear and those woolly socks you bought last year too!
With many households worried about the rising cost of energy bills, find out if there are any energy bill discounts you may be eligible for.
3. Get Your Boiler Serviced
Boilers need servicing once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer, so a precautionary check in the run-up to the winter before you switch on your heating is a sensible move.
Visit the Gas Safe website for more details.
4. Make An Emergency Plan
Have you ever considered what would happen to the person you cared for if an accident or emergency happened over the winter period? Now is the time.
Having a contingency plan so the person you care for is supported again as soon as possible will put your (and their) mind at rest. This guide to creating a plan for the person you care for is a good place to start.
5. Stockpile Supplies
Make sure you have enough food supplies and medication to see you through a few days in case bad weather restricts your mobility and means you have to stay inside.
You can’t go far wrong with having a few frozen meals in the freezer, just in case! This is also true if you or the person you care for (if you live in the same home) falls ill and can’t go out much.
6. Winter Fuel Payment
Were you or someone you live with born on or before 5th October 1954? If so, you could claim between £100 and £300 to help you with your heating bills.
These payments are tax-free and do not affect any other benefits you may be receiving). Check our full guide to energy discounts you might be eligible for.
7. Cold Weather Payments
If the temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degree Celsius or below over 7 days in row you may be entitled to cold weather payments.
8. Apply for the Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount is a government-funded payment that goes towards the extra costs of heating your home through the winter. Its aim is to reduce fuel poverty in lower-income households, and recipients can get up to £140 off their electricity bill.
For more information visit the warm home discounts page on the gov.uk website.
9. Stay Insured
Carers insurance can provide cover if you are injured or ill and unable to work, as well as a number of other key elements of cover.
Our Carers Insurance and Personal Assistant Insurance provides Employers Liability Insurance, Legal Expenses, Public Liability and more, giving you the peace of mind that you’re covered in the event of unexpected incidents.
Winter can be a difficult time for many reasons, but hopefully the checklist above puts you in good stead for keeping yourself and those around you healthy and secure this winter!