Winter Weather Needs for Older People

Age Scotland is calling on residents to keep an eye on their Council this winter to see how well it is looking after vulnerable older people.  The Charity’s Winter Weather Watch campaign invites members of the public to note the Council’s response to severe weather incidents such as ice and snow, and to report back on the extent to which it is successful in preventing older people getting cut off from their community and from vital public services.

Age Scotland has asked every Scottish Council about its plans for looking after vulnerable older people in winter and produced good practice recommendations for local authorities. In its good practice recommendations, the Charity is calling on Councils to:

1. Create a dedicated plan for identifying vulnerable older people and meeting their needs in winter;

2. Take action to ensure older people and their families are aware of the plan and how to register for assistance;

3. Form partnerships with voluntary organisations for improved weather emergency response;

4 Prioritise locations with a high proportion of older people for salt and grit, and;

5. review winter plans annually with a range of partners to check that they are working for older people.

Age Scotland campaigner Doug Anthoney said: “Councils say that they are ready to look after older residents; we want to test their claims and, if necessary, hold them to account with public help.  Taking part is really easy – you can sign up online at or by phone on 0845 833 0200.  We’ll note your details and contact you in spring 2013 to ask about your winter experiences.”

Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer Callum Chomczuk said, “We were pleased to learn that West Lothian Council provides an Emergency Volunteer Service that helps vulnerable residents who are housebound due to severe weather, including the delivery of essential food, shopping and other services.  Publicity for winter support services also looks fairly good.  However in locating grit bins it doesn’t appear to take into account the proportion of older people in an area, just ‘refill access.’

“Midlothian Council’s winter plan includes communication with vulnerable residents to find out if they need extra help during severe weather, and we were pleased to hear that it has partnerships with the voluntary sector locally to improve its response.  We look forward to hearing from residents how well it performs through the winter.”

“East Lothian Council lacks a dedicated older people’s winter support plan; however we were pleased to learn that it takes reviewing its winter response strategy seriously.  Hopefully residents will tell us that this is making it more effective, however we remain to be convinced that it is doing enough to partner with voluntary organisations locally.”

“Edinburgh City Council has a dedicated plan for supporting vulnerable older people during severe winter weather.  We were impressed by its approach to publicising and reviewing this plan, and by the partnerships it had developed with the voluntary sector locally.  We look forward to hearing from residents how well this is working in practice.”

To sign up for the Winter Weather Watch campaign, and to download Age Scotland’s good practice recommendations and summary of how prepared Scotland’s Councils’ are for winter, visit  Age Scotland’s analysis of Council readiness is based on a Freedom of Information request submitted in December 2011.

The Met Office also has guidelines on how to prepare for winter weather here.


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