In the lead up to Christmas the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney is urging people to think about their physical and mental health, while local services remain very busy.
NHS leaders are asking people to ‘help us, help you’ by encouraging preparation in the lead up to Christmas, seeking help if people need it, and choosing the right service from a range of help on offer over the festive period.
Dr Frankie Swords, NHS Norfolk and Waveney’s Medical Director, said: “With the weather getting colder and an increase in coughs, colds and other respiratory illnesses like flu, washing your hands, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes and keeping away from others if you do feel unwell, are all key. And if you are under the weather, contact your community pharmacist who is on hand to give expert advice.
“If you are worried about your health, please don’t put off getting help. If it’s urgent, call 111 who are there to help you get the help you need, or get in touch with your GP surgery. Your NHS wants to see you before any health concerns become bigger problems – help us, help you.
“Accidents while decorating, slips in the icy weather, food poisoning and minor injuries are all common things we see over Christmas, so please be careful while enjoying the festivities.
“It’s also super important to stay safe in the ice and snow to avoid, slips, trips and falls and help those who may struggle with their mobility or balance.”
Here are some things you can do to have a healthy Christmas…
- Check your prescription medicines. Make sure you and your loved ones have enough supply of any prescribed medicines to last you over the festive period. If your medication will run out over the Christmas and New Year bank holidays, consider whether you need to place an order now. If your GP surgery uses the Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) service and your medication is due to be ordered between now and Tuesday 3rd January 2023 inclusive, you can place your medication order from today.
- Contact NHS 111 if you’re unsure. For anything which feels urgent, or if you don’t know what to do, visit https://111.nhs.uk/ or call 111 and you will be directed to the most appropriate service. Trained staff can even book you a time slot with another health service or the Emergency Department, if necessary.
- Remember self-care. Many common ailments can be treated at home with a well-stocked first aid kit. Heartburn, hangovers and minor burns from cooking can all be treated at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet or first aid kit.
- Visit your local pharmacy. Many pharmacies are open over bank holidays and can offer expert advice on common conditions such as colds, sore throats and rashes. Check their opening hours in advance.
- Get your vaccines. Now is a good time to take up your offer of a flu or COVID-19 booster vaccine if you have been offered one by the NHS. Children over 2 years of age have been offered a flu nasal spray, so please find them time to get this.
Thinking about your wellbeing and those who may struggle with their mental health is also key as Christmas can be an overwhelming time which brings up lots of different emotions.
Here is how you can look after your wellbeing and mental health…
- Seek support. The NHS Wellbeing Service is offering a range of talking therapies and social activities by telephone, video call, messaging, and webinar for anyone experiencing low mood, depression, or stress. You can self-refer by visiting www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or calling 0300 123 1503.
- Visit a safe space. You could visit a Wellbeing Hub. With a focus on wellness, not illness, you’ll always find a warm welcome and supportive staff to offer help, advice, or a listening ear.
- Talk to someone. Qwell.io also provides online anonymous digital support from trusted counsellors
- Reach out if you need to. If you start to feel unsafe, or distressed, you can call the urgent mental health helpline. Call 111 and select the mental health option. The team is available seven days a week through the festive period.
Health and social care organisations are also increasing their focus around discharging people who are well enough to leave hospital in time for Christmas, ahead of a busy festive period.
If you have a relative currently in hospital and they have had the care that they need, research shows that going home will help them to get better much faster. Relatives might be able to help with this transition, so please speak to a member of ward staff to discuss this.
NHS Norfolk and Waveney and partners continue to run the Warm and Well campaign which includes tips for keeping you and your loved ones well and hardship support and advice. For more information about where to go and helpful advice, visit: https://improvinglivesnw.org.uk/our-work/our-campaigns/warm-and-well/