1. Keep warm in winter: how to claim the winter fuel payment
    2. Flu Jab: Stay flu safe
    3. Prepare for severe winter conditions
    4. Preventing Falls
    5. Keeping cool during a heatwave
    6. Ten practical ways to help people with dementia
    7. The Samaritans: What to do if you or someone you know is struggling to cope 
    8. Feeling well and overcoming loneliness
    9. Herbert Protocol


Keep Warm in winter:

How to claim the winter fuel payment   [external link]

Winter Fuel Payment: Who can claim it?

You are eligible for Winter Fuel Payment if you are over Pension Credit age. For winter 2016/2017, this is if you were born before 6 May 1953. Payments are based on households rather than individuals, so if you live with someone else who is eligible, the payment is split between you.

How much is it worth?

Winter Fuel Payment is made every year between November and December. You’ll get between £100 and £300, depending on your age and circumstances. Go to  [external link] for a list of the different payment rates.

How do I claim?

If you’re receiving State Pension or certain other benefits such as Pension Credit, you should get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically. If not, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline to make a claim on 0345 915 1515. You only need to claim once – after this, you’ll receive payments automatically every year.

Cold Weather Payment: Who can claim it?

Cold Weather Payments are made when the temperature falls below 0°C for seven days in a row. It helps people on a low income with their fuel costs, so you might be eligible if you’re getting Pension Credit or certain other benefits. You won’t be eligible if you’re living in a care home.

How much is it worth?

You will receive £25 each time the average temperature falls below 0°C for seven days in a row.

How do I claim?

If you’re eligible for Cold Weather Payments, you should receive them automatically. If you think you should have received a payment but haven’t, contact your pension centre [external link]

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Get the Flu Jab: Stay flu safe!

Stay flu protected: 

Royal Voluntary Service and the NHS are working together to encourage people over 65 to get flu safe with a free flu jab from their GP.  Flu Safe is a national NHS campaign to highlight the importance of getting the jab, and dispel common misconceptions about the jab and flu itself.

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be really serious for some. People at most risk include those aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, and diabetes.




We hope that older people their carers and families, find this guide useful.  Download the flu vaccination winter guide [PDF document] to give to someone you know.

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit nhs' website [external link]. 

NHS logo

Why have a flu jab?

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

If you’re in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu jab is completely free, and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.

Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the flu virus.

Flu facts

  • The flu jab can’t give you flu
  • The flu jab is perfectly safe
  • The flu virus changes, so you need a flu jab every year
  • If you’re pregnant, the flu jab doesn’t harm your unborn baby. In fact it can protect your baby from flu for the first few months of life
  • The flu jab also protects against swine flu
  • The flu jab isn’t just for older people – those with health conditions, carers, and those with weakened immunity should all get the jab
  • The flu jab protects people of all ages
  • Flu isn’t just a cold, it can be a really serious illness.

Download the flu vaccination winter guide [PDF document] to give to someone you know.

To find more information visit the royal voluntary service's website [external link]


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Preparing for severe winter conditions:

For most people, when the clocks go back it signals the start of winter.  For some, especially if you are older or have older relatives, it can be a more difficult time when you may need a bit of extra help or support.

For more information about staying safe, healthy and warm this winter check out the Royal Voluntary Service guide [external link].

Preventing Falls

Falls in the home are very common amongst the elderly. Most falls are preventable and are not a natural part of ageing. Many older people will hide their falls as they fear interference and losing their independence. However, if they were assisted to take simple steps to help themselves much pain, hospitalisation and injury could be avoided.  Royal Voluntary Service | Advice & support | Preventing falls. For advice and information about how to prevent falls check out the Royal Voluntary Service website [external link]. 

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Keeping Cool during a heatwave

Follow some of these tips for older people and their families to make sure you keep cool and stay safe during a heatwave.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking cool drinks such as water or soft drinks. Try to avoid hot drinks such as tea or coffee.
  • Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, which is typically between 11am and 3pm.
  • Keep cool by splashing yourself with water throughout the day, or even have a cold bath or shower.
  • Make rooms in the house as cool as possible by closing blinds and curtains to keep the sun out and only open windows when it is cool enough outside to do so.
  • Find the coolest room in the house and spend time there if you need to.
  • Keep an eye on weather forecasts for what the temperature will be and make plans accordingly. Visit the Met Office's heat health pages [external link] for warnings of heatwave conditions.

For more advice for older people in a heatwave visit Royal Voluntary Service's website [external link].

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Ten practical ways to help people with dementia

The Royal Voluntary Service describes ten practical ways to help people with dementia. Check out their website [external link].

  1. Treat the person with respect and dignity
    People with dementia often feel very vulnerable so it is important to help them feel confident and valued. Encourage them to achieve small things for themselves.
  2. Be a good listener
    It can really help to talk things through – even if this is just a short weekly phone call.
  3. Be a good communicator
    Speak calmly and wait for signs that the person has understood what you have said. Look the person in the eye and use physical contact to offer reassurance.
  4. Remember that the little things can mean a lot
    Dropping in for a cup of tea or helping to organise a photo album can help to show a person living with dementia that you care.
  5. Stay in touch
    Hearing from someone briefly and frequently is better than receiving a long letter twice a year. Try to keep in touch as the person’s dementia progresses over time.
  6. Offer practical help
    Two thirds of people with dementia live at home. Offering practical support with things like cutting the grass, putting the rubbish out or running an errand will make a big difference.
  7. Organise a treat
    Think about what the person liked to do before their illness and try to adapt an activity to their current situation. You could go for a picnic in the park or watch an old film.
  8. Help different family members in different ways
    Some family members may dedicate a lot of time to caring responsibilities so offering them support is important too.
  9. Find out more about dementia
    The more you know about dementia, the more confident you will feel spending time with the person with dementia and their loved ones. Visit the Alzheimer’s Society’s website on [external link] or call the Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22 (Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm). The National Dementia Helpline provides information, advice, and support through listening, guidance and appropriate signposting to anyone affected by dementia.
  10. Talk to Royal Voluntary Service about services in your area
    Whether reducing isolation through a regular visit from a local Royal Voluntary Service volunteer or practical help like providing a lift to the doctor or meeting up with friends, the help Royal Voluntary Service offers is tailor made to what the older person needs. Get in touch to see how we can help you or someone you care about or search for services by postcode [external link] on this website.  To find out more:


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The Samaritans: What to do if you or someone you know is struggling to cope 


The Samaritans [external link]

Whatever you're going through, call The Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123.


The Samaritans are there for you  round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it's best to call on the number above.  This number is FREE to call. Remember, you don't have to be suicidal to call The Samaritans 


You can’t really generalise how struggling to cope can make you feel or act, but if you think these symptoms sound like you or someone you know, please get in touch with the Samaritans  [external link] :


  • Lacking energy or feeling tired
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
Samaritans Logo

A few changes can make a big difference to your overall sense of well-being. Check out the Royal Voluntary Service website [external link] or the Age UK Darlington website [external link] for more advice. 

Here are five small steps you can take to make you feel better.

1. Get active - Do some light exercise, whether it’s tending your garden, using the stairs more regularly or joining a walking club.

Royal Voluntary Service Logo

2. Get involved - Take steps to become more engaged in your local community by visiting a lunch club or volunteering at a local scheme. For information about activities in Darlington check out the Age UK website [external link] 

3.  Stay connected - Talking to people is one of the best ways to feel good and avoid loneliness. See friends and family  regularly, or if you can't get out but would like some company try using the internet to keep in touch with people wherever they are. If you don’t have a computer at home most libraries have computers you can use free of charge, or for a small fee. Contact Royal Voluntary Service about its befriending and transport services so you have the practical support you need. Or contact Age UK [external link] and check out the Good Friends scheme in Darlington.  

4.  Eat well - A healthy and balanced diet will help you feel your best. It’s important to stay hydrated too.

5.  Sleep well - You may find that your sleep patterns change as you get older and you need less sleep than you used to. It might make you feel lethargic and down. You can improve your sleep by reducing daytime naps, going to bed at the same time each night and reducing the amount of caffeine you drink.

Herbert Protocol

Do you care for or are you the family of an elderly or vulnerable adult who is at risk of going missing due to having dementia? 

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme adopted by Durham Police and other police services across the country.  It encourages carers, families, friends or neighbours, to hold information about the person with dementia that can help the police find them if they do go missing. 

The information will help the police and other agencies locate the missing person as quickly as possible and return them to safety.


How will it work?

The protocol will run throughout Darlington and County Durham. When you signup the police will contact you to discuss the process and will suggest steps to prevent particularly vulnerable adults going missing. The police will also explain the process to be followed to ensure a swift response should the person concerned fail to return home. 

Durham Constabulary Logo

What do I do ?

Carers, family, friends, care providers and agencies can identify any vulnerable adult who is at risk of going missing. The police will then contact you and issue a standardised document for completion. This document will provide the police with the right information at an early stage. Readily available information such as places frequented, which bus routes are used and areas which they are likely to frequent will help the police locate the person concerned at an early stage. You will also be encouraged to keep a recent photograph, an up to date list of medication and other specific information which can be accessed quickly.

You will be asked to keep the form and the photograph in an easily accessible place. If the vulnerable adult goes missing at that point you will contact the police and hand over the up to date form. This should help the police locate the missing person as quickly as possible. 

For further information on how to access the document and contact Durham Police check out the Durham Constabulary  Herbert Protocol leaflet [link] or see the Durham Constabulary website  [external link] to request a form directly. 

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