Winter Health Advice

With winter here and the festive season fast approaching, this is one of the busiest periods for GP surgeries and hospitals. We have put additional resources in place across the Partnership to help keep Edinburgh healthy and well over winter.

Everyone can help themselves to stay healthy and well and reduce the impact on hospital emergency departments and GP surgeries. However, there are some people who need extra advice and support over the winter period:

·  vulnerable older people
·  people who receive a care at home service
·  people with long-term health conditions, eg asthma, atrial fibrillation, cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes, heart disease and heart failure, hypertension, kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke
·  people at higher risk of falls
·  unpaid carers.

These are the people who make most use of our services. We can help keep them healthy and be seen by the most appropriate health or social care professional by giving support and advice.   
Which staff groups this briefing note is aimed at:

Primarily frontline staff who have direct contact with Edinburgh’s:
·  vulnerable older people
·  people who receive a care at home service
·  people with long-term health conditions
·  people at higher risk of falls
·  unpaid carers.

You can make the difference by passing on advice to people you come into contact with. This briefing is particularly relevant to:

·  GP surgery teams (GPs, practice nurses, healthcare assistants,      phlebotomists, health visitors and receptionists)
·  social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists
·  care at home workers and agencies
·  pharmacies
·  district nurses
·  long-term conditions team
·  carer support team.   
What we are asking Edinburgh’s citizens to do:   

Over the festive period in particular:       

  • If you feel unwell – contact NHS 24 on 111 – and you’ll be guided to the right service.

Help yourself to a healthy festive season:

  • know when your surgery is open over the festive period
  • make sure you order enough medication or repeat prescriptions in advance
  • know how to find out where the emergency pharmacies are located (phone NHS 24 on 111)

Throughout the winter period:

·  know your self-management plan if you have a long-term condition
·  take action to guard against falls, particularly if are unsteady on your feet
·  keep your medicine cabinet stocked with cold and flu treatments
·  at well and keep your cupboards stocked in case you can’t get to the shops
·  stay warm
·  know what to do in the event of severe weather

In particular for those who are at risk of falls – take small steps to stay on your feet:

1. Get checked out top to toe:
· get your eyes tested every year
· if you notice a change in your hearing talk to your GP or visit a high street pharmacy which offers free hearing tests
· wear shoes and slippers that are comfortable and fit properly
· visit your podiatrist if you have sore feet, long toe nails or poor circulation as this can make you less steady on your feet
· ask your local pharmacy to review your prescription medicines and any over the counter medication you are taking.     
2. Keep bones healthy by making sure you take enough calcium. You can get this in dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, nuts and bread among others.     
3Get enough vitamin D and speak to your pharmacist about taking a supplement during winter.     
4Stay active: walk as much as possible and don’t sit down for long periods. Go to to find out about classes at your local centre.     
5. Clear your way at home and make sure there’s nothing you can trip over or bump in to like rugs and low furniture.

You can get more information at and

Where to get more information or keep up to date:

NHS 24/NHS Inform: 111     
NHS Inform website     
Health-wise campaign     
Twitter @NHSInform (uses hashtag: #healthwise)     
Social Care Direct 0131 200 2324     
Web pages     
Twitter @Edinburgh_CC     
NHS Lothian      
Web pages
Leaflet Right care right time right place (available on website)     
Ready Scotland     
Twitter @readyscotland