Vulnerable people who live in the Wakefield and district area will once again be able to access extra help during cold weather via the snowbell scheme.
The scheme, which is being run by Age UK Wakefield District in partnership with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Wakefield and Carers Wakefield & District, is an attempt to address some of the difficulties people encounter as a result of bad weather.
The continuation of the Snowbell Scheme comes after a successful pilot during last winter of the Wakefield Winter Warmth Cold Homes Action Project (CHAP) which has now been relaunched to run from December 2012 – March 2013.
Snowbell was introduced after Age UK Wakefield District received an influx of calls from distressed people who were stuck in their homes following a harsh winter. After extensive consultation with local partners the organisations decided to work together to deliver the snowbell scheme, which aims to create a more coordinated response across the district in bad weather conditions.
The scheme combines common sense advice about preparing for winter and keeping warm and well with access to help lines manned by trained staff and a coordinated responder network for the duration of the bad weather. The responder network will be supported by the Trust’s health and wellbeing development workers and health trainers, as well as Carers Wakefield & District and Age UK Wakefield District.
To help reduce the risk bad weather poses to vulnerable people preparation packs have been sent out to older adults and partner organisations across the Wakefield district advising people to get food and essentials ready and to remain indoors during bad weather.
Snowbell will come into force during a period of bad weather. It will begin on days 3 or 4 when members of the snowbell team will man help lines taking calls from people who can’t leave the house and are in distress. A brief assessment will be made over the phone to assess if that person is deemed at risk of lack of food, heating payments or health issues.
Responders, including health and wellbeing development workers and health trainers, as well as Carers Wakefield & District and Age UK Wakefield District will work in pairs to go to people’s homes of those at risk. If people require groceries they can arrange for a maximum of £10 worth of essential groceries to be delivered to their house, where they then pay for the shopping upon receipt of the goods. While there they will make an assessment of their current condition and basic health and if necessary contact other teams to provide assistance.
The Highways Agency will provide up to date information to responders about the state of the roads to enable them to get out and about in the community.
Jill Poole, health and wellbeing development worker lead, said, “We are delighted to be supporting Age UK Wakefield District again to keep vulnerable people well during winter and ease the strain on local NHS services. We hope the preparation packs will help reduce some of the risk by ensuring people are ready for cold weather, but it’s reassuring to know that local support will be available for those particularly vulnerable to cold weather which can cause avoidable illness and even death.”
The snowbell responders network will work alongside the Wakefield Winter Warm project, which was recently awarded government funding. This is a CHAP ‘outreach referral’ project which will work to identify ‘at risk’ homes and refer them for help from a ‘cold homes help package’.