Policy: Although there is no official definition of a 'heatwave' in the UK, the term can be used to describe an extended period of hot weather relative to the expected conditions of the area at the time of year. Compassionate Care Team Ltd understands the impact that heat and extremes of heat can have on its Service Users and the people who work for or on behalf of Compassionate Care Team Ltd and its aim is to ensure that Service Users and staff stay safe and well during hot weather.
Compassionate Care Team Ltd will ensure that staff understand the risks associated with hot weather and will have mechanisms in place to identify at-risk Service Users and to monitor the Heat-Health alerts issued by the Met Office.
Staff and Hot Weather Compassionate Care Team Ltd recognises the need to be aware of the potential impact on the workforce and the potential for business continuity to be compromised. As well as those employees who may be affected by the heat, there is an increased likelihood of children or elderly relatives requiring additional care during prolonged periods of excessive heat.
Consideration will be given to working practices that may need to be adapted to minimise the impact of the heatwave. This may be a particular issue if schools close.
Service Users and Hot Weather We recognise that severe heat is dangerous to everyone, especially older and disabled people. During a heatwave, when temperatures remain abnormally high for longer than a couple of days, it can prove fatal. By following this policy and working in partnership with health and local authority colleagues, we will ensure that Compassionate Care Team Ltd is able to minimise the risks to Service Users who may be at greater risk during hot weather.
Business Continuity Excessive heat has the potential to disrupt normal working practices. We recognise that IT equipment, electrical supplies, transport and health services may be placed under extra strain. We aim to ensure that we have robust contingency plans in place to minimise the impact on the operating of our services and to ensure the welfare of staff and Service Users.
Procedure: A heatwave is one of the emergencies where it is possible that regional arrangements will be put in place. Compassionate Care Team Ltd will need to ensure that it understands the local heatwave plan and that Compassionate Care Team Ltd is on the distribution list for Heatwave Notifications issued by the CCG. Additionally managers should read the Heatwave Plan for Health and Social Care Professionals Supporting Vulnerable People before and during a heatwave.
Heat and Work Conditions Although there is no maximum temperature for working unlike for cold temperatures, during a heatwave employers still have a duty to provide a safe place of work for their workers (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as amended), have safe working systems and implement protective measures based on local risk assessments. The risk assessment should consider whether premises are acceptable during extreme heat and whether an employee’s work activity increases the risk of exposure to excessive heat and what proportionate protection measures may be available. Managers should consider reviewing break times to ensure that staff have sufficient opportunities to rehydrate and review uniform and workwear policies so that staff can work safely and comfortably. Staff travelling to and from a Service User's home should carry water. If travelling on foot they should wear a hat and sun cream and try to walk in the shade. Staff travelling in a car should ensure they leave sufficient time for their journey, that the car is well ventilated and left securely when visiting Compassionate Care Team Ltd. The car should be maintained to ensure that there is sufficient oil and water and that the tyres meet UK safety standards.
Assessing Service Users Who are at Greater Risk • Establish who is most at risk; ask primary care staff if unsure and record it in the Service Users' individual Care Plans • Ensure that there are procedures to monitor Service Users most at risk and to provide additional care and support (room temperature, body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and dehydration will need to be monitored) • Ask the GPs of 'at-risk Service Users' about possible changes in treatment or medication in the event of a heatwave and review those Service Users on multiple medications • Ensure mechanisms are in place to monitor Heat-Health Alerts issued by Public Health England and the Met Office and take into account local weather variations
Actions to Support Service Users to Stay Well in the Heat Service Users should be encouraged and supported to follow these steps to protect themselves: • Eat a balanced diet to help the body replace any salt lost by sweating. • Keep hydrated. Service Users should aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water or fruit juice a day even if they are not thirsty and should keep a bottle of water when they are outdoors. Staff will be made aware of the signs of dehydration and heat stroke and know the action to take • Dress appropriately. Service Users should be encouraged to wear a hat and loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes. Footwear is important and opting for open-toed sandals and avoiding flip-flops which can be hard to walk in can help the Service User to remain cooler. Sandals that fasten with Velcro are a good idea if the Service User's feet swell up in the heat • Service Users should be encouraged to avoid strenuous physical activity or housework when it is very hot • Service Users should stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day (usually 11am–3pm) and apply sun cream at least 30 minutes before going outside • The curtains and blinds should be closed in rooms that catch the sun. Where there are appliances in Compassionate Care Team Ltd that are generating heat, they should be turned off where possible • The use of fans or air conditioning will assist with reducing the effects of the heat • Be aware that plastic pads and mattresses can be particularly hot during a heatwave • Bowls of cool water to place feet in can help reduce the effects of the heat • Encourage Service Users to remain in the coolest parts of the building as much as possible
Additional Actions by Staff: • Encourage Service Users to move to the coolest room, ideally (below 26ºC) • Give priority and extra time to high-risk Service Users or any showing signs of distress (including increased body temperature) • For Service Users who can’t be moved, or for whom a move might be too disorientating, take actions to cool them down (e.g. liquids, cool wipes) and enhance surveillance • Monitor Service Users’ fluid intake, providing regular cold drinks, particularly if they are not always able to drink unaided; remember the importance of increasing fluid intake during periods of high temperature to reduce the risk of bloodstream infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria • Oral rehydration salts may be suggested for those on high doses of diuretics; bananas, orange juice and occasional salty snacks can also help replace salts lost due to sweating • Advise Service Users to avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, colas), very sweet drinks and alcohol • Encourage Service Users to wear light, loose cotton clothes to absorb sweat and prevent skin irritation • Regularly sprinkle or spray cool water on exposed parts of the body – a damp cloth on the back of the neck helps with temperature regulation • Arrange cool showers or baths if possible
Actions to Try to Keep Compassionate Care Team Ltd as Cool as Possible: • Keep blinds and windows closed while the temperature outside is higher than it is inside • Once the temperature outside has dropped lower than the temperature inside, open the windows; this may not be until very late at night or the early hours of the morning • Make the most of cooler night-time temperatures to cool the building with ventilation • Reduce internal temperatures by turning off unnecessary lights and electrical equipment
Heat Exhaustion The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, intense thirst, heavy sweating and a fast pulse. If a Service User or member of staff has any of these symptoms staff must: • Find a cool place and loosen tight clothes • Encourage the Service User to drink plenty of water or fruit juice • Sponge with cool (not cold) water Symptoms should improve within 30 minutes. If there are any concerns, call the GP or NHS 111 for advice.
Heat Stroke Heat stroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated; it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, disorientation, seizures and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. If a Service User or member of staff shows symptoms: • Call 999 immediately • While waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious • If possible, move them somewhere cooler • Cool them down as quickly as possible by giving them a cool shower, sprinkling them with water or wrapping them in a damp sheet, and using a fan to create an air current • Encourage them to drink fluids, if they are conscious • Do not give them Aspirin or Paracetamol
Ramadan and Fasting • Many members of the Muslim community may be fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. Compassionate Care Team Ltd should familiarise itself with the dates of Ramadan each year and build appropriate actions into its local plans if it falls during the summer months • It is common to have one meal just before sunrise and an evening meal after sunset during Ramadan. During hot weather, dehydration is a common and serious risk. It is important to balance food and fluid intake between fasts and especially to drink enough water. If a Service User starts to feel unwell, disorientated or confused, or collapses or faints, advice is to stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid. This is especially important for older adults, those with poorly controlled medical conditions such as low/high blood pressure, diabetes and those who are receiving dialysis treatment • The Muslim Council of Britain has confirmed that breaking fast in such conditions is allowable under Islamic law • Guidance has been produced to help ensure that members of the Muslim community have a safe and healthy Ramadan – Ramadan Health Guide: A guide to healthy fasting produced in association with the NHS, with further information available on NHS Choices