Who’s going to help me when the snow comes?

Should the snow come, how ready will Scotland’s Councils be to look after vulnerable older people asks Doug Anthoney, as Age Scotland calls on the public to join its Winter Weather Watch.

snow_scene

Last December Age Scotland submitted a Freedom of Information request to each of Scotland’s 32 Councils. We asked them what they were doing to ensure that vulnerable older people were not cut off from the community and from vital public services in severe winter weather. There were some interesting findings.

We learned that while every Council in Scotland has a winter weather plan, less than half had a dedicated older people’s isolation and support strategy. When it came to publicising winter weather provision, some just put information on their website, whereas others used road shows and got word out through elected members and Community Councils. From salt and grit distribution, to partnership with voluntary organisations, the story is similarly mixed.

We’ve used this information to prepare good practice recommendations that we want Councils to sign up to. All should:

  • Have a plan for identifying vulnerable older people and meeting their needs
  • Take action to ensure older people and their families are aware of the plan and how to register for assistance
  • Partner with appropriate voluntary organisations for improved weather emergency response
  • Prioritise locations with a high proportion of older people for salt and grit
  • Review their plans annually to check that they work.

We would also like members of the public local older people’s to join our Winter Weather Watch; to keep an eye on their Council’s response to severe weather, and to tell us how well this meets the needs of older people. Signing up is easy and can be done online. We’ll note your details and contact you in spring 2013 to ask about your winter experiences, or possibly sooner if there is a particularly severe weather incident affecting your area.

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