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Warmth scheme hots up as hundreds of people receive help to stay well

18th February 2019 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

People with long term health conditions made worse by cold living conditions have had their homes transformed by 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 diabetes.

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

The scheme called npower Health Through Warmth supports home owners with long term illnesses, on a low income with little or no savings, who are unable to fully fund the repair or replacement of broken heating systems and appliances, such as boilers or central heating systems. 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.

During 2018 the scheme helped over 549 household members, as a result of 290 referrals from many sources, including local GP practices and community health staff. The team have surpassed their target of helping 422 household members by the end of 2018 by 127 people.

This is just one of many local schemes which has been supported by the Better Care Fund, a programme spanning both the local NHS organisations and councils which seeks to join-up health and care services, so that people can manage their own health and wellbeing, and live independently in their communities for as long as possible.

Mrs Pushpa Sodha lives with her husband and son in Leicester. She suffers from arthritis and diabetes, she finds it hard to walk and her son is her main carer.

“I am very grateful for the help that the team have given us. I struggle with my arthritis, especially in the cold weather, it is extremely painful and me and my husband both have diabetes and really feel the cold. The house was always cold and the heating didn’t work properly, so the team helped us by replacing our boiler and added a radiator to the lounge so the house is much warmer now. It means that the house now stays warm and cosy, I am in less pain and feel much happier. It really is peace of mind to know that the house will now always be heated and we can live much more comfortably in our home.”

Dr Sulaxni Nainani, GP at De Montfort Surgery and lead on integrated care, 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 of Leicester residents 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 the colder weather is set to stay for a little while longer, it’s important that if people are struggling, they ask for help.”

Subject to eligibility, the council’s energy projects 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.

Leicester’s deputy city mayor for the environment and public health, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “Increasingly, we’re all recognising that tackling health problems isn’t just about taking pills. There are lots of things we can all do to help improve or protect our health, and making sure we stay warm is a good example.

“This scheme shows how different public bodies can work together and use our resources effectively to support good health and wellbeing, particularly for more vulnerable people.”

Sarah Heaney, npower Health Through Warmth manager, commented. “I’m enormously proud of the work that Health Through Warmth does. The scheme plays a vital role providing help to people who might not be able to find it elsewhere. The importance of warmth and comfort should not be underestimated, particularly for people who have long-term illnesses.”

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.

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 and to find out if you and your family are eligible, phone the city council’s energy projects team on 0116 454 3782.

For more information about keeping warm this winter and what help is available visit http://www.bettercareleicester.nhs.uk/help-us-help-you/, a website especially for people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.


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