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Physios can help identify people at risk from cold homes, says NICE

20 March 2015 - 11:00am

Physiotherapy staff should be helping to identify vulnerable people who live in cold homes says a new report.

Physios can help identify people at risk from cold homes, says NICE

Physiotherapists and primary health practitioners can save lives by making common-sense suggestions. Photo: Age UK

The guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is intended for health, social care and voluntary sector practitioners who are involved with at-risk groups, along with the commissioners and managers of related services.

It suggests that:

  • primary health and home care practitioners should identify people at risk of ill health from living in a cold home
  • primary health practitioners should be making every contact count by assessing the heating needs of people, particularly those who are vulnerable to the cold
  • people responsible for arranging and helping with someone's discharge from a health or social care setting should assess if they are likely to be vulnerable to the cold and if action is needed

Steve Tolan, the CSP’s head of practice and development, said physiotherapy staff could help to implement the guideline’s recommendations.

He told Frontline: ‘CSP members routinely work with at risk groups such as those who are older or frail. And physiotherapists can save lives in winter by making simple common sense suggestions to vulnerable patients about keeping warm in the winter or by signposting them to local patient organisations, such as Age UK.’

Publication of the NICE guidance follows calls by CSP members for the government to make millions of homes more energy efficient.

The society’s East of England regional steward Kim Gainsborough raised a motion about increasing energy costs at the annual TUC women’s conference, held in London from 11 to 13 March.

She called for unions to support Age UK’s Spreading the warmth campaign, which highlights that an estimated 1.7 million older people in the UK can’t afford to heat their homes.

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