Emergency planning for winter

We all love a winter wonderland but the reality of your employees struggling along icy roads to care for vulnerable people or dealing with burst pipes at your premises is far from idyllic. In this article we give essential advice to help you prepare your business for the winter months.

Every year we, as a nation, seem unprepared for the havoc bad weather wreaks on our living and working arrangements but home care business owners can't afford to be complacent especially with emergency services expected to be stretched to capacity.

Time spent now planning for severe weather conditions will help keep your business running smoothly and prevent costly insurance claims. Contingency planning also lets employees and service users know you care about their wellbeing at a difficult time of year.

Your business premises

Flood or service failure

Freezing conditions cause a variety of problems ranging from the failure of public utilities to burst pipes and flooding which could prevent you working from your usual premises.

What you can do: preventative measures include regular servicing of utilities, dealing promptly with problems like dripping taps, making sure pipes are insulated and keeping the heating on during freezing conditions. If the worse should happen ensure you have a contingency plan that enables you to work temporarily from another location.

Insurance Tip: make sure you have appropriate business interruption cover in place and ask for input from your broker and insurer.

Slips and trips

You're responsible for providing a safe environment for staff and visitors to your premises so do what you can to make sure they don't slip or trip when entering or leaving.

What you can do: sign up for severe weather alerts, buy grit or salt in advance, clear snow and ice as soon as possible, establish safe access routes, use warning signs and cordon off problem areas.

Insurance Tip: document what you do - it'll stand you in good stead in the event of a claim.

Your employees

Travel problems

Ensuring your employees can reach service users can be a real headache during the winter months. Icy roads make driving more hazardous, increase journey times and put pressure on staff.

What you can do: promote good car maintenance, suggest employees keep a flask, food, warm clothing and a fully charged mobile phone in the car and make arrangements so that key staff can work from home.

Health and wellbeing

Your workforce is likely to be under increased pressure over the winter months and illness will only compound this. Unwell staff also risk the health of service users.

What you can do: encourage your workforce to stay as healthy as possible and advertise local schemes for things like flu jabs.

Your service users

Delivering care

Older and disabled people are vulnerable to illness, slips and trips and suffer the effects of the cold acutely so it's a cruel irony that bad weather often means it's difficult to reach service users at the very time they need you most.

What you can do: make sure you have a plan. Identify which members of staff live most remotely and which service users are most vulnerable, then work out alternative ways to provide care should the need arise. Consider different rota scenarios, make contingency arrangements with neighbours, family members and other organisations in the area, provide staff and service users with emergency contact details and liaise with local councils to become part of their wider emergency planning process.

Insurance tip: Don't just have a plan, communicate it, test it and review it regularly. Document everything you do and check with your broker for any implications for your insurance cover.

Provide practical advice* to help keep service users warm and well by advising them to;

  • Keep living areas warm and heating adjusted to the right temperature

  • Eat well and keep hydrated - drink hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day

  • Wrap up warm using layers - indoors and outside

  • Draw curtains and close doors to prevent draughts

  • Wear shoes with a good grip in wet and icy conditions

*Source:NHS and Met Office

Get advice

If there's something you're not sure about your insurance broker should be a good resource - so use them.

Towergate Insurance is a homecare insurance specialist and the preferred insurance broker for UKHCA. They provide a range of insurance products and proactive risk management tools that help homecare businesses operate smoothly whatever the weather.

For further information about Towergate Insurance contact us on 020 8336 0099 or email our home care team.

You can also find out more information by visiting our website.

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