Autumn may seem miles away from the scorching summer heat, but it’s just around the corner! That’s why we’ve put together a go-to checklist for care homes, as doing the groundwork now will give care providers a head start on being prepared. That means, when the leaves start falling, you’ll have confidence that your care home is efficient, optimised and ready for Autumn.
1. Check your boiler
This should always be at the top of your to-do list. Sometime between the end of September and the start of October the temperature is going to drop, leaving you reliant on the whim of your boiler!
Check that your boiler is in good condition now to avoid an emergency during the cooler months. You should continue to check its operation throughout Autumn and into Winter, when it’s really pivotal that you’re able to heat your care home.
2. Clear your gutters
Autumn is famous for its rich golds and browns once the leaves begin to fall. Whilst beautiful, they also have the potential to clog your gutters which can lead to leaks, damp, mould and mosses that can all be damaging to your care home. It’s a good idea to have a look at your gutters and roof tiles now to ensure that your home is prepared going into the colder months, before a larger issue emerges that will be more costly to fix.
3. Check your smoke detector
As the heating goes on, the potential for a fire increases. Whilst regular checks should already be taking place, it is wise to test your fire and carbon monoxide alarm more frequently before the winter to ensure everyone’s safety is maintained. Fire safety is also assessed by the CQC, making it even more important to prioritise in your care home.
4. Cut the grass
Remember, you still need to cut the grass outside of summer — even if at a lesser rate. This is best done just before the cooler, damper months begin, as it’ll become much more difficult to maintain once the ground is wet. Clearing outside areas is also key to reducing the potential for accidents and falls, as it keeps garden paths and uneven ground visible to residents and visitors alike.
5. Check your lights
As the days become shorter, the need for good lighting increases. Keeping the inside of your care home well-lit is an important factor in helping it feel warm and cosy during the colder months. Outside lights are important to maximise visibility and safety for residents, staff or visitors through wet weather and dark evenings.
6. Plan Autumn activities
When it’s colder and residents are less inclined to use outside spaces, care management teams may need inspiration for indoor activities. Start planning an activity schedule now, to ensure there’s always something ready to keep residents entertained. This could include:
- Jigsaws and puzzles
- An autumn-themed quiz
- Seasonal craft activities, such as painting or card-making
- Knitting and crochet
- Autumn collages with newly dried leaves and chestnuts.
7. Review your Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)
As the temperature drops, the potential for seasonal flu and infections increases. Although COVID may still be at the forefront of people’s minds, viruses such as influenza and norovirus also have the potential to spread quickly in the cold and wetter months. That’s why reviewing that your IPC policies are up-to-date and watertight is the best way to keep your residents safe.
8. Care staffing levels
As colds and other illnesses are more common during colder months, it’s also more likely for care homes to experience staffing issues during these periods. Ensuring that you have enough staff to see you through this period is crucial if you want to avoid using costly care agency staff for temporary shifts. This could be from beginning a recruitment drive, as well as planning which of your team members have the capacity to support regular shifts in your autumn and winter care service, in the event of illness or absence.
9. Stock up!
It’s never too soon to make sure you have a good level of supplies to see you through emergencies, such as medications, first aid, food and other essentials. Snow and severe weather during the autumn is unlikely but not impossible, so having basic necessities, blankets and heaters may make all the difference in an extreme scenario.
10. Update your contingency plan
You’re more likely to need a contingency plan during the winter when snow and ice makes it harder to get supplies to your home. However, it’s still a good idea to review emergency procedures for your care home as a matter of process. This will mean that, should you get caught off guard with an unpredictable event, your care home is well prepared and providing a safe environment for your residents.
If you need expert advice and recommendations on how to prepare your care home for the autumn and winter months, please get in touch.