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Nurses should spot vulnerable people at risk from the cold, says health watchdog

New guidance from NICE calls for greater support for vulnerable people living in cold homes

Primary care nurses and other healthcare professionals should identify people at risk of ill health from living in a cold home and assess their heating needs, according to guidance published today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The latest guidance warns that people with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart disease, people aged over 65 and children with asthma are particularly at risk, adding health can be affected when temperatures drop to about 6°C.

Staff responsible for hospital admission and discharge should also assess vulnerable people when they are in hospital to find out if they are likely to return to a cold home, the guidance recommends.

Co-chair of the NICE committee that developed the guidance Dr David Sloan said: ‘Doctors, nurses, and other health staff prevent and treat illnesses every day but we are suggesting that thinking about the health effects of cold homes is also their business.

‘This new NICE guidance says that health, social care and other professionals should always take a minute to consider the health risk of cold homes when in contact with patients and clients, and know what steps to take to get help to the people who need it. Action on cold homes can prevent early deaths.'  

Click here to read the guidance

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