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Boiler scheme hots up in time for winter

18th September 2013 | By Melanie Shilton | Posted in

People with long term health conditions made worse by cold living conditions can take advantage of a scheme that aims to improve warmth, comfort and quality of life.

Living in cold and damp housing is a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of older people as well as people living with long term health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and high blood pressure.

Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has teamed up with Leicester City Council’s Home Energy Team and npower to help residents keep their home warm and energy efficient.

The scheme, called Health Through Warmth, supports a range of people in different circumstances, for example those on low incomes, with long-term conditions, privately renting or who own their own homes. The team gives people advice and support on how best to heat their home and be more fuel efficient as well as telling them about the long term health benefits.

Dr Nitin Joshi, GP at Willowbrook Surgery and member of Leicester City CCG governing body, said: “The cold can have a number of adverse effects on the mental and physical health of vulnerable people. This includes people over the age of 65, those living with a long-term health condition, those living in the most deprived areas of the city and people living with mental health problems. Significant numbers ofLeicesterresidents fall into one or more of the above categories and are therefore vulnerable to the adverse effects of inadequately heated homes and colder weather.

“Keeping warm during the harsh winter months can play a key role in reducing the risk of serious health problems that occur more in the cold, such as chest infections, heart attacks and stroke. And, as summer begins to fade and the dark nights creep closer, now is the time to take action to stay warm and well this winter.”

Depending on the eligibility criteria, the Council’s Home Energy Team may send out a technical officer to carry out a home visit which could result in getting advice on how to best heat the home or how to be more fuel efficient, or residents could be given a refresher on how to set the thermostat or timer for the central heating. Residents may also be entitled to some funding towards repairing or replacing their existing boiler or central heating system and help to insulate the house.

Lucy Birch, Health Through Warmth Coordinator based at Leicester City Council, said: “We offer a number of schemes to support a range of people in different circumstances. In addition to this, if work needs to be carried out, we’ll organise it. We arrange quotes from vetted and trusted contractors which helps to protect people from dealing with unknown trades people and oversee it, from the initial engagement of the contractor to carrying out inspections of completed work.”

The Health Through Warmth scheme helps homeowners who are unable to fully fund heating measures themselves with the aim to improve the quality of life for vulnerable people.

Karen Mitchell, 48 from Braunstone heard about the scheme from a family member, she said: “My sister told me about the scheme after I told her that we desperately needed a new boiler for the winter. To be honest I never thought we would qualify for the scheme because both my husband and I work full time and even with two children we have never qualified for any benefits. But because my husband has high blood pressure and my daughter suffers with eczema, both conditions that deteriorate in the winter, we were eligible for support.

“The assessor came out from the council and we had a new boiler fitted and two new radiators. What would have cost us well over £2000, ended up costing us £750 and we were even able to take out an interest free loan from the council to pay the costs. It’s a little early to tell whether there has been any improvements with my family’s health, but it does mean that my husband doesn’t have the stress of worrying about paying for a new boiler, so that has to be a good thing. I really don’t know what we would have done without the scheme.”

Whatever the reason; the cost of heating your home, lack of understanding how the heating system works, or lack of adequate heating, there is help, advice and support available. For more information or to find out if you and your family are eligible phone the Home Energy Office on 0116 2211176.

For more information about keeping warm this winter, Age UK has some great tips and advice on their website: visit www.ageuk.org.uk

 

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