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Nurses urge public to check on elderly friends and relatives during heatwave

Overheating, heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration are all serious risks during hot weather, especially for elderly people, young children and those with certain chronic health conditions.

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Nurses are urging the public to check on elderly friends and relatives during week-long heatwave.

As the UK experiences its hottest week so far, the Royal College of Nursing has urged people to check on elderly relatives and neighbours, and others who may be at risk.

While many welcome the sunny weather, overheating, heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration are all serious risks during hot weather, especially for elderly people, young children and those with certain chronic health conditions.

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Hot weather can have devastating consequences. In France in 2003, nearly 15,000 people are thought to have died during a heatwave when temperatures consistently hit more than 40 degrees.

Many of the victims were elderly people living alone.

How to beat the heat

  • Keep the sun out by closing blinds and curtains, and shut windows to keep the inside of the home cool.
  • If possible, don’t go out at the hottest time of day, between 11am and 3pm if you are at risk.
  • Planning ahead can help avoid going out too much when it’s hot – make sure you have enough food and any medications you need.
  • If you do go outside wear loose clothing and a hat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower to reduce your temperature, and have regular cold drinks, particularly water.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea and colas.
  • Check up on relatives and friends who may be at risk.

Anna Crossley, Professional Lead for Acute, Emergency and Critical Care at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Heat can effect anyone, but checking on older relatives or neighbours is important – they are particularly at risk, as are infants, and those with long term conditions or other health issues that could make it hard for them to adapt to the hot weather.

“As well as drinking plenty of water, people should keep themselves cool by wearing loose clothing, and keeping their home cool by shutting windows and drawing curtains until the weather is cooler in the evening.

“Be on the lookout for early signs you are suffering from the effects of the heat. Commonly these include symptoms such as heat rash, headache, thirst, and swelling ankles. If you or another person experiences this, help yourself, help others, and get into the shade.  Call NHS 111 if you are concerned ”

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Education

UCAS accused of having an ‘outdated’ view on nurses

They describe the nursing role to prospective students as looking after people when they are sick or injured.

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UCAS describes nurses as providing “support to doctors and other medical staff”.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has been accused of having an “outdated” view on nurses after it described the profession as providing “support to doctors and other medical staff”.

UCAS describes the nursing role to prospective students as looking after people when they are sick or injured. Adding; “You’ll provide support to doctors and other medical staff, take blood and urine samples, and in some cases, you may carry out minor surgical procedures.”

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Nurses, alongside a multitude of other healthcare professionals, have taken to social media calling for the description to be amended so it “adequately reflects nursing in the 21st century”. They also criticised the article for failing to highlight a large number of health promotion and research roles frequently undertaken by the profession.

BJ Walto, a senior member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) commented that the description is “inaccurate, demeaning and totally misleading portrayal of nursing.”

Tom Wavlin, a Lecturer in Adult Nursing & Admissions Tutor at the University of Plymouth, suggested the description could instead read; “an autonomous practitioner of nursing who works closely with other healthcare professionals”.

In comparison, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) website reads; “Registered nurses play a vital role in providing, leading and coordinating care that is compassionate, evidence-based, and person-centred. They are accountable for their own actions and must be able to work autonomously, or as an equal partner with a range of other professionals, and in interdisciplinary teams.”

A spokesperson for UCAS said; “It’s clear that our current role profile for nurses doesn’t reflect the amazing work that nurses across the country do each day, and we welcome the feedback we’ve recently received.

“We want to make sure that students considering their future options have up-to date information about all different careers available to them.

“We’re currently updating all of our job profiles and are in touch with nursing experts to help us make sure that we better reflect the roles and responsibilities of nurses today.”

UPDATE (17/10/19 09:55): This article was updated to include a comment from UCAS.

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Professional Regulation

NMC launches an emotional support helpline for staff involved in fitness to practise cases

The helpline is part of the NMC’s bid to become a “person-centred” regulator.

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The helpline will provide emotional and practical support for staff involved in the fitness to practise processes.

Nurses, midwives and nursing associates involved in fitness to practise can now benefit from a new, free and confidential support service.

The NMC’s Careline, operated by an independent provider, will provide emotional and practical support is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for nurses and midwives across the UK, and nursing associates in England, who are involved in the fitness to practise processes.

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Staff can contact the service via phone, live chat or email, to discuss concerns with specially trained counsellors who are experienced in handling sensitive topics.

Launching less than a year since the NMC set up its support service for members of the public who raise concerns when things go wrong with their nursing or midwifery care, the 12-month CareLine pilot launched on World Mental Health day.

Becoming a ‘person-centred’ regulator.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said: “Following the launch last year of our Public Support Service for people affected by poor nursing or midwifery care, I’m really pleased we’re now able to offer this new pilot resource for professionals.

“The Careline marks another important step forward in truly humanising how we operate and becoming the person-centred professional regulator that the NMC is determined to be with everyone we interact with.

“Less than one per cent of around 700,000 professionals on our register are engaged in our fitness to practise procedures, but we know that it can have a profound effect on those that are. The impact on someone’s physical and mental wellbeing as a result of being under such scrutiny mustn’t go unrecognised.

“I hope the Careline, and our forthcoming remediation guidance, further encourages support and learning when things do go wrong in nursing and midwifery care. Together, let’s help ensure that all those involved in our processes are treated with kindness and respect.”

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