Winter health checklist

 

Staying well this winter can be really important for your health and those of older loved ones and neighbours. It’s especially important for those aged 65 or older and people with long term conditions such as heart or kidney disease, diabetes or breathing conditions like COPD (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and asthma.

This handy checklist will help get winter ready with advice and signposting to various support services.

Click on the links below for information and support:

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Do you know there are ways you can look after common ailments yourself?

Many common illnesses and minor ailments can be easily treated at home for most people.

The NHS and partners have produced some useful videos, fact sheets and audio books for a range of common illnesses, if you, a loved one, or neighbour need advice on how you can treat them and when you should seek medical advice.

The NHS website also has a host of information on symptoms, conditions and treatments.

Audio books on these conditions are available here:

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Is your medicine cabinet stocked up for winter?

Be prepared this winter by making sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked. Speak to your local pharmacist for more information including how long symptoms are likely to last and checking that any of the medicines you buy over the counter are ok with any prescribed medication you may take.

Examples of medicine cabinet items:

Pain relief medications: Paracetamol or Ibuprofen are effective in treating minor ailments such as headaches, minor aches/pains, period pains, inflammation from arthritis or sprains, the common cold, reducing your temperature.

Lozenges, antiseptic sprays/mouthwash, and paracetamol: these are great for treating symptoms of a fever, cough or sore throat.

Antihistamines: these can be in the form of tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops and are great for treating insect bites, allergic reaction, itchy rashes, itchy eyes and hay-fever (note: some antihistamines can cause drowsiness. Please check with your local pharmacist for further information).

Anti-diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion remedies: There are a variety of products you could buy over the counter to help relieve your symptoms. Speak to your pharmacist for more information.

Note: please read and follow the patient information leaflet available with each over the counter medication or speak to your pharmacist for more information.

Care at the Chemist is a local scheme for patients registered with a GP in Sefton, which enables the pharmacist to provide the recommended minor illness medicine for a number of conditions, free to patients who do not pay prescription charges.

Ordering repeat prescriptions: Make sure you are up to date with your repeat prescriptions – but remember to only order what you need. The best way to order your repeat prescription is online through your GP practice website or the NHS app. If you are unable to order your prescription in this way, your practice will have arrangements in place. If you can’t get out to pick up your medicines you can ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to collect them. If you have no one to help and are self-isolating, you can find details of support available on Sefton Council’s website - www.sefton.gov.uk/covid-19-in-sefton/covid-19-support/sefton-support-offer.

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Do you want to live healthier?

Active Sefton is a Sefton Council run initiative to improve physical health and mental wellbeing. These services include free NHS health checks for anyone aged between 40 and 74, who have no underlying health conditions. You can register for an NHS Health Check online or by calling 0151 934 2352. These free health checks are aimed at picking up early signs of conditions that can then be prevented such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease and helping people live longer, healthier lives.

Active Sefton also run services aimed at providing people with the opportunity to live more active and healthy lifestyles and support for older people who may be at risk of a fall, to reduce their risk and maintain their independence. Speak to your GP practice about these services or go to www.activeseftonfitness.co.uk for more information.

A ‘Lower My Drinking’ app has recently been developed to support people to think about alcohol and the role it plays in our lives. The app is free to download for anyone who lives or works in Cheshire and Merseyside and uses scientifically-proven tools to support you to reduce your drinking to the recommended limit of 14 units a week or less.

Sefton Council also offers a range of services to support individuals experiencing problems associated with alcohol and drug use. For further details including how to access services visit the following website: www.merseycare.nhs.uk/our-services/south-sefton/ambition.

It is never too late to stop smoking and the health benefits are felt immediately. Smoke Free Sefton offer FREE support to stop smoking and access to proven treatments and are currently offering a blended approach of telephone and face to face support at a venue close to you, with day time and evening appointments. By accessing your local Stop Smoking Service you are 3 times more likely to quit. For more information or to make an appointment, please telephone 0300 100 1000 or visit our website www.smokefreesefton.co.uk.

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Have you had your winter vaccinations?

The best way to protect against COVID-19 and flu is to get your vaccines as soon as they are available to you and if you’ve yet to have yours, it’s never too late.

More information about the COVID-19 booster programme and how to get your COVID-19 vaccine is available on www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccination or by calling 119.

The flu vaccine is being offered to anyone 50 or over, or who are in a high risk group including those who are pregnant to protect them and their baby, and also those who may be carers or work in frontline health and social care.

Children from 2 to 15 and those aged up to 17 with certain health conditions can have the flu nasal spray, which is safe and effective.

For more information on flu and where you can get the flu jab visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu

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Do you know how to keep safer from infections

Following ‘hands, face, space’ remains an effective way of controlling the spread of COVID-19, flu, and other viruses including norovirus.

Wash your hands regularly throughout the day and after you’ve blown your nose or been to the toilet. Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed places, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. If you are meeting friends and family, if possible, meet outdoors or let fresh air in if you are meeting indoors.

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Do you know what to do if you think you have COVID-19?

If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 it’s important you get a PCR test as soon as possible, even with mild symptoms:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

You can arrange a test online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, the service is available by textphone on 18001 119 or on the NHS 119 British Sign Language interpreter service at www.interpreternow.co.uk/nhs119.

If you are getting a test because you have symptoms, you must stay at home until you get your result. Anyone in your support bubble who hasn’t received both vaccinations must also stay at home.

Find the latest guidance on self-isolation on the NHS website here.

If you need medical advice about your symptoms, use the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service at www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or call 111 if you can’t get online.

Are you able to keep warm enough?

Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer. Several layers of clothes trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

Have at least one hot meal a day and have hot drinks regularly.

Advice for anyone struggling to heat their home is on www.sefton.gov.uk/Affordable-Warmth. You can also call the team on 0151 934 2222. Tips for saving energy and water, along with an outline of how the Affordable Warmth team can help is detailed on this leaflet.

You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment.

For more information on how to reduce your bills and make your home more energy efficient, go to the government's Simple Energy Advice website, or call the Simple Energy Advice helpline on 0800 444 202.

You can also find out about heating and housing benefits on GOV.UK.

It's worth claiming all the benefits you're entitled to as soon as winter begins.

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Are you able to keep active and meet people?

Active people have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. Regular exercise can help improve your mental health, reduce the risk of falling and can support recovery from illness.

Support with being active and meeting people is also provided through Living Well Sefton, which is a free service led by Sefton CVS. Living Well Sefton’s local mentors can support you to make small changes that can have a big impact on your wellbeing.

Groups and services include:

  • Knit and Natter aimed at older people in Sefton to have a chat and learn new skills
  • Feelgood Factory running afternoon and knitting socials
  • Brighter Living groups and lunch clubs aimed at people aged 50 and over who are at risk of loneliness or isolation
  • Sefton Carers Centre running keep fit and dance sessions on Facebook and in person
  • Swan Women’s Centre and Age Concern who both offer befriending services
  • Imagination Art Therapy offering free art therapy for men
  • L30 Community Centre pantry where you can pick up 10 items for a £1.50 donation
  • Bereavement support services
  • Weekly wellbeing calls
  • Community Champion volunteers who can accompany nervous or less mobile clients to groups for the first time to help increase their confidence.

From walking groups to lunch clubs, they can provide in-depth support by working out how physically active you want to be and assess your wellbeing by tailoring a plan just for you. You can self refer online or call 0300 323 0181.

Sefton Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) can also put you in touch with a wide range of local voluntary, community and faith organisations that may be able to help. Take a look at their Here for You Directory – there’s more than 1,000 organisations delivering over 3,000 services that are available to residents across Sefton, or call Sefton CVS on 0151 920 0726.

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How is your mental health and wellbeing?

If you’re feeling anxious, depressed or simply need someone to talk to, there is plenty of help available:

  • Organisations in Sefton that are working to improve mental health and wellbeing have produced Sefton In Mind with a directory of local mental health support services.
  • Talking Matters is a free, confidential service to help deal with common mental health difficulties for those registered with a GP in Sefton. Call them on 0300 303 2708 or go to www.mhm.org.uk/talking-matters-sefton.
  • For practical tips and expert advice to improve your mental health, you can also visit www.kindtoyourmind.org.
  • There’s also a free, confidential, 24/7 text message support service for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or is struggling to cope. Text HEAL to 85258.
  • For anyone over 16 in need of urgent mental health support, as they no longer feel able to cope or be in control of their situation, there is a free 24-hour telephone service on 0800 145 6570.
  • You can find details of mental health support for children and young people in Sefton here.

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Do you know how to get advice from NHS 111?

Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 first if you need medical help but it is not an emergency. NHS 111 will direct you to the right health service for you, which could include a pharmacy, GP practice, or a booked time slot at a walk-in centre or hospital accident and emergency department. Remember, you should still dial 999 for a medical emergency, such as a suspected stroke or heart attack.

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Do you know where to go for assistance in getting the medical help you need?

NHS 111 First
If you do need medical advice and aren’t sure where to go, use NHS 111 online or call 111 for assistance in getting the medical help you need. Over half of those using the service can receive a clinical assessment and be offered immediate advice or may referred to the right service for a booked timeslot.

Local pharmacy
Your local pharmacists are health experts who can help with all sorts of conditions and treatments. Anyone can access expert advice and buy a range of medicines for minor illnesses from a local pharmacist, without needing a prescription from their GP. Your pharmacist can help with:

  • Advice and treatment for minor illnesses such as coughs, colds and earache
  • Advice on staying well and preventing disease
  • Support to maintain good sexual health
  • Help to quit smoking
  • Personalised support to get the most from your medicines

To find a pharmacy near you, search using your town, city or postcode on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/service-search/pharmacy/find-a-pharmacy. Care at the Chemist is a local scheme for patients registered with a GP in Sefton, which enables the pharmacist to provide the recommended minor illness medicine for a number of conditions, free to patients who do not pay prescription charges.

GP practice
All GP practices in Sefton are open and continuing to provide services, including face to face appointments where these are needed. There are a number of ways you seek healthcare advice from your GP practice:

  • Visit your GP practice website and complete a confidential online form during normal opening hours to request advice or treatment. You will receive a response as soon as possible, usually within two working days. Online forms should not be used for very urgent medical problems.
  • Call your practice to arrange an appointment. You will usually be assessed by a health professional or a member of the practice team on the telephone first, with face-to-face care arranged if clinically needed. If you have a preference about how to access care you can discuss it with your practice.
  • For urgent issues or out of hours, you can also call the NHS on 111 or go online to seek NHS advice nhs.uk
  • Download the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions and get health advice.

More information on accessing your GP practice.

Walk-in Centre
To get help for minor illnesses and minor injuries the walk-in centre in Litherland, is open seven days a week from 8am until 8pm, including Bank Holidays. Before attending please contact www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 where your problem will be triaged and if required an appointment will be made.

999 /Accident and Emergency Department
Dial 999 or attend your nearest Accident and Emergency Department for life-threatening emergencies such as a suspected stroke or heart attack.

Dental services
Anyone in pain or in need of support, help or advice, can telephone their dental practice in the usual way. Anyone without a usual dentist and in urgent need can call the local dental helpline on 0161 476 9651.

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Do you need help finding the right health or care service in Sefton for you?

Healthwatch Sefton’s independent signposting and information service can help you make the right choices.

You might have questions like:

  • How can I find an NHS dentist?
  • Can I get help or adaptations to allow me to live safely at home for longer?
  • How do I change my GP?
  • How can I find a good care home?
  • Is there a support group to help me?
  • Can I get help to pay for care at home?
  • What help is available so that I can have a good quality of life despite my health condition

Healthwatch Se¬fton provide helpful independent advice to guide you to the right health and social care services. The team are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 0800 206 1304. Please note this service will be unavailable between 24th December and 3rd January.

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Do you want to know festive opening times of local pharmacies and walk in centres?

Pharmacies and walk in centres are open over the festive period, including Christmas bank holidays to provide expert health advice and treatment of minor health issues. For details of opening times and days click here.