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NICE round up: NICE advises community nurses how to prevent winter deaths and illnesses

NICE offered advice to nurses working within the community on how to deal with patients who have health problems due to living within a cold home in one of their recent guidelines.

It states that housing conditions are an extremely important factor in winter deaths, because the death rate rises around 2.8% for every degree celsius that drops in the external temperature.

It says there are preventions that nurses and practitioners working in the community can put in place to stop winter deaths and morbidity by suggesting nurses contact relevant local authority departments, organisations in the voluntary sector and housing organisations to see if they can offer a patient living in the cold any help.

Additionally, NICE identifies that those working in the community should take time to explain to patients the affects that living in a cold home can have on their health.

The guideline also identified early precausions that can be taken by making relevant services aware of a patient, for example referral to a health service for a person who needs a flu vaccination early on in the year, can ensure they have this before winter the following year to stop them suffering from extra illnesses.

NICE also highlighted that most winter deaths and illnesses are considered to be caused by hypothermia when really they are caused by respiratory and cardiovascular problems during average winter temperatures usually when the outdoor temperature drops below 5-8ºc.

Therefore by contacting all organisations possible patients lives can not only be saved but given a better quality.

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