As the hot weather continues, the CQC are calling on those who work or volunteer in health and adult social care services to be #TempAware so that older citizens, and people living with disabilities or in vulnerable circumstances, stay cool and are appropriately supported
The main causes of illness and death during a heatwave are respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, there are specific heat-related illnesses including:
• heat cramps – caused by dehydration and loss of electrolytes, often following exercise
• heat rash – small, red, itchy papules
• heat oedema – mainly in the ankles, due to vasodilatation and retention of fluid
• heat syncope – dizziness and fainting, due to dehydration, vasodilatation, cardiovascular disease, and certain medications.
At Risk Groups
• older people, especially those over 75 years old, or those living on their own and who are socially isolated, or in a care home
• those with chronic and severe illness, including heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory or renal insufficiency, Parkinson’s disease, or severe mental illness
• those on medications that potentially affect renal function, sweating, thermoregulation, or electrolyte balance
• those who are unable to adapt their behaviour to keep cool, including those with Alzheimer’s, disabilities, or who are bed bound
The government is also urging care home staff to regularly check residents’ body temperature, heart and breathing rates, blood pressure and hydration levels.
It asks staff to ‘watch’ for any changes in residents’ behaviour, especially excessive drowsiness and look out for headaches, weakness, giddiness, disorientation or sleeping problems.
The government also advises staff to try to avoid alcohol consumption by care home residents. Alcohol advice site Drinkaware stated: ‘Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the kidneys to lose extra fluid.
‘Alcohol also makes you sweat more. The combination of sweating more in the heat, and going to the toilet more, means you lose more fluid than you take in and become dehydrated unless you replace that lost fluid by drinking water.’