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The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) has issued advice to older people in the UK on how they can stay safe in the cold weather in order to avoid being admitted to hospital.
Last week, chief executive officer of the college Julia Scott said she believes that an occupational therapist should be dispatched with each ambulance crew to help assess whether or not patients need to be brought to hospital as the NHS continues to struggle with high demand.
Statistics show that falls are behind 40 per cent of all ambulance callouts across the country, and are the leading cause of death from injury in individuals aged 65 and over. Therefore, in a bid to reduce the number of people needing to be admitted to hospital or visiting their local accident and emergency department, the COT is advising older people on how to avoid falls to protect their health and prevent extra pressure from being heaped on the NHS during the winter months.
Occupational therapists are encouraging people who may be at greater risk of falls to make sure they absolutely have to go out before they brave the cold, icy weather, and to ensure they are accompanied by someone else or at least have a mobile phone with them in case of an emergency. Alternatively, the COT suggests over-65s should let someone know where they are going and when they have arrived home for extra safety.
The college notes that dehydration and feelings of hunger can increase a person's risk of a fall, so is urging older people to eat and drink before venturing outside and to wrap up warm, wearing supportive footwear with a good grip.
In addition, if an individual feels stiff before they go out, they should move around for a few minutes indoors before heading outside in order to reduce their risk of a fall further.
These tips were compiled by Karin Orman, a professional practice manager at the COT, who stated: "With the NHS struggling to cope, it is especially important that everyone does everything they can to avoid them needing a trip to hospital.
"Thousands of occupational therapists are working flat out across the country to help the NHS to avoid unnecessary admissions and ensure that when people are admitted to hospital they can get back home as soon as they are well enough to do so."
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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