Heatwave Advice for Care Homes

Care homes are being urged to prepare early for potential heatwaves so they can help protect older people from the effects of high temperatures. Actions such as making sure windows can be opened and shaded, checking there are enough fans, making sure cold drinks are available and ensuring you know who is most at risk, can help to reduce the risk of older people getting heatstroke.

The guidance for care home managers and staff on supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave is being published by the Department of Health as part of its updated heatwave plan. Domiciliary care agencies will also be alerted to the dangers associated with heatwaves and the need to take appropriate action to protect service users.

Paul Snell, Business Director, Inspection, Regulation and Review for the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), said: “It is vital that managers and staff in care homes take action to ensure that older people in their care are protected from the heat.

“This leaflet sets out a number of steps to ensure that care homes are prepared for long spells of hot weather, so that they can keep their residents

healthy, happy and safe.” Other preparatory measures include:

  • Ensure that staff know which rooms are most easy to keep cool
  • Check the air conditioning system works properly, if one exists
  • Check water and ice are widely available, and arrange for cold drinks to be distributed in the event of a heatwave
  • Plan to adapt menus to cold meals, in consultation with residents
  • Ensure you have protocols to monitor residents most at risk and to provide additional care and support
  • Check residents have light, loose-fitting cotton clothing to wear.

During a heatwave care homes should check body temperature and weight regularly, watch for signs of headache, unusual tiredness, weakness,

disorientation or sleeping problems and monitor residents’ fluid intake.