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Winter pressures information for care homes

We provide information and support to aid our care and nursing home care providers in managing winter pressures. Over the winter months a range of problems can place strains on how we deliver health and social care across the county. Take time to read the following information and bookmark the page.

Winter planning in Norfolk

We work with providers and Norfolk’s three acute hospitals throughout the winter period to ensure our health and social care system works effectively and resiliently through winter.

  • Busy periods and Bank holidays create pressure and strain on the health and social care system which can sometimes impact on the people we provide care and support to. Norfolk County Council’s Bed Tracker, our relaunched residential capacity monitoring tool, is a quick, convenient and powerful way of sharing your vacancies during the busy winter months with the teams that work with Norfolk residents to identify homes and arrange care.
  • As part of our work to improve the experience of accepting hospital discharges into yours homes we have established Trusted Assessment Facilitators in each of Norfolk’s acute hospitals. Find out more about our trusted assessor programme and how they can help you this winter.
  • Follow #norfolkwinter on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information on keeping vulnerable clients healthy and safe, as well as information on severe weather and gritting routes for your workforce. You can also find information on our Norfolk Winter webpages.

Are you prepared for winter?

The following information is intended to support you deliver care and support through the winter months.

Care home workers and registered nurses can get a free flu vaccination by completing this letter and taking it to a pharmacy or GP surgery that provides the vaccination. We want to see as many social care staff working with vulnerable older people vaccinated as possible. This vaccination is essential to limiting the risk of flu outbreaks, reducing the risk of severe infections with your clients and maintaining a resilient workforce.

Please ask your workforce to complete and take the letter to your local pharmacist or GP for the free flu vaccination. They may also require some proof they are employed in providing care for older people.

Public Health England have released guidance on managing flu outbreaks in care and nursing homes. Please consider displaying this poster on flu outbreaks prominently in staff areas. The information provided offers advice on how to manage and maintain infection prevention and control measures.

If you notice two or more residents or staff meeting the criteria in the poster, occurring within 48 hours of each other and in the same area of the care home you might have an outbreak and need to contain your Community Infection Control Team.

The Norfolk Resilience Forum is a multi-agency group working to manage risks and plan coordinated responses to emergencies. They can assist your organisation with business continuity assessments and planning. Business continuity is about protecting three main areas of your business:

  • Safeguarding people
  • Safeguarding your assets
  • Safeguarding your processes

Their aim is to make you aware when there is a risk or an emergency and what their planned response would be and also to provide you with information and advice as necessary at the time of an emergency.

The Norfolk Resilience Forum also publishes the Community Risk Register, providing information on hazards that may affect Norfolk.

With the cold months approaching we would like to remind services about the need to ensure that boilers are functioning properly, and that appropriate maintenance and service arrangements are in place. If you do experience problems with heating and hot water provision please make the Quality Assurance team aware ( in addition to notifying CQC.

You know your business best, and through your experiences you know what sort of increased pressures and risks you can expect to encounter over winter in relation to staffing. Now is the time to make sure you are adequately staffed to cover the winter period, and that you have business continuity plans in place in case of any staffing issues. We encourage you to carefully consider your business continuity plans for the following situations:

Staff sickness

  • What would you do if an epidemic sickness hit your staff?
  • How would you still manage to cover all clients who need care?

Staff absence

  • What if a member of staff unexpectedly doesn’t pick up their usual hours over winter?
  • Can you rework the rounds/rotas to cover?
  • Do you have other staff you can call in to cover their shifts?
  • Are you able to build a ‘bank’ of staff prepared to cover additional shifts?

The Norfolk Resilience Forum gives you help and advice on developing and evolving your business continuity plans. You can use their flu pandemic scenario to test your plan and make sure it is up to date. It will help you think about how you could manage your workload with fewer staff, whilst trying to maintain the high standards of care you offer even when you have encountered unexpected trouble over winter.

Our three-hour gritting runs cover approximately 2,200 miles of roads in Norfolk, focusing on commuter and major bus routes and, as far as possible, one route into all villages. Highways England also treat 143 miles of trunk roads including the A11 and A47.

We cannot grit all of Norfolk’s 6,125 mile road network, so when cold weather is forecast please check our map of planned priority gritting routes.

We will update people on our gritting plans via local radio, Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #norfolkwinter.

As we approach winter we’re encouraging you, our home support providers, to look at your business continuity plans and check that they are fit for purpose – including your arrangements for staff travel.

If any of your staff do break down in their cars, particularly at this time of year, do they have the right kit keep them safe and get them back on the road?

It’s recommended that year round car essentials should include:

  • Fully charged mobile phone and in car charger
  • Hi-viz bib
  • Road map – in case of diversions
  • First aid kit
  • Water and non-perishable food
  • Loose change
  • Umbrella or water proof
  • Breakdown service and insurance company contact details
  • Hazard triangle

In winter it is also worth keeping these items in your vehicle:

  • A coat, hat, scarf, gloves and extra warm clothing
  • A spare pair of shoes or boots
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and batteries
  • Extra snacks (chocolate or cereal bars)
  • Extra screenwash

When the forecast is for severe weather and your staff still have to be out, then it’s good to consider packing these items as well:

  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • A flask of hot drink

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