Many people who use health and social care services may be at risk of developing hypothermia. They include:
- older people in care homes and receiving care at home
- people with reduced mental capacity, reduced mobility, or a sensory impairment
- people who cannot communicate that they are exposed to cold
The provider was found to have failed in their duty of care, was guilty of systemic failures and was fined £1.6 million. The judge said this was “an accident waiting to happen”.
This incident demonstrates how important it is for providers to have contingency plans to keep their residents warm – particularly over the winter months.
People receiving care at home may be at greater risk. NICE have produced a Quality standard for Preventing excess winter deaths and illnesses associated with cold homes. This includes priority areas for home-care staff to:
- ask vulnerable people, at least once a year, whether they have difficulty keeping warm at home
- consider room temperature when they are making home visits
- ensure good communication between agencies to identify and address any needs and to avoid duplication.