Residents urged to look out for loved ones as the NHS issues a heatwave alert
Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS), which supports older and vulnerable members of the community to live safely and independently at home, is acting as the eyes and ears for Hertfordshire’s older residents. This week alone, HILS will be checking in on just under 2,000 Hertfordshire residents when delivering their lunchtime meals on wheels service.
For most of us, sun and hot weather is something to celebrate, but higher temperatures can put older people at serious risk of dehydration and heatstroke if they cannot keep cool. HILS chief executive, Sarah Wren, has joined NHS colleagues in urging people to keep an eye on their elderly neighbours and relatives during the heatwave this week.
“We all have an important responsibility to take extra care of our neighbours and loved ones during this hot weather. At HILS, we know our clients are particularly vulnerable to dehydration, so we try to encourage them to drink lots of water.” Sarah says.
“Our team members will be filling up clients’ water jugs, which we offer for free to everyone who joins the service, and encouraging them to drink. They will also be looking out for any signs of dehydration when delivering our meals on wheels.”
HILS operates 365 days a year, including weekends and bank holidays, whatever the weather. Throughout all the snow and sunshine this year, HILS community drivers have continued to check in on around 1,600 older and vulnerable people every day whilst delivering hot meals cooked at sites in Ware, Letchworth, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.
Those aged over 75 are especially at risk of dehydration and overheating. As people get older, they sometimes do not feel thirst and therefore drink less water than they should. This can trigger more dangerous health problems such as painful infections, dizziness, confusion, and increased risk of falling.
At HILS, emergency protocols have been put in place amid the scorching weather with staff fully briefed on dealing with clients who may be ill due to the heat.
“Our teams are trained to spot signs of heatstroke. If any clients aren’t feeling well, or we are concerned about their wellbeing, we can raise the alarm and call family, friends, or their GP. If the emergency services are needed, our team members can wait with the client until the ambulance arrives” says Sarah, adding:
“Looking after ourselves is important too, our team members all have a bottle of water out with them at all times. Please remember to help your loved ones stay cool this week, and check in on others, especially the elderly, to help them stay hydrated, and keep in the shade”.