Nearly 1 in 2 adults in England (47%) increase the assistance they provide their older relatives during the colder months, with around 14% of those saying their support ‘significantly increases’, new figures released by leading not-for-profit care provider Greensleeves Care show.

Help with shopping (50%), paying social visits (46%) and support with household tasks like cleaning (40%) top the list, followed by cooking and organising meals (35%), transport (32%), assisting with mobility (24%) and offering financial support (21%).

The extra support comes as 62% report feeling more concerned about the welfare of their older loved one in the colder months compared to other times of the year. This season, health issues (40%), loneliness (38%), mobility (35%), keeping warm (34%) and safety (33%) are cited as the top areas of care-related worries.

Worries about the wellbeing of older loved ones are having a significant impact on individuals and families, driving increases in stress and anxiety (35%), changes to routine (30%), limiting personal activities and leisure (25%) and affecting sleep (21%). Women also feel more of the emotional impact, with more women (41%) reporting increased stress and anxiety than men (28%).

The figures come at a time which often marks a spike in enquiries to adult care providers like Greensleeves Care. The not-for-profit provider, which operates 27 residential, dementia and nursing care homes across England, saw a 27% increase in enquiries in the colder months in 2023 compared with the preceding period.

Suzanne is the daughter of a Greensleeves Care resident. Her mum, who lives with dementia, moved into care after staying at home became increasingly difficult, particularly in the colder months. She said:

“Mum’s health was a special concern during winter. We struggled to get her to attend medical and flu vaccination appointments. Healthcare professionals would ring her up and she’d cancel often as she didn’t want to leave the house, or had forgotten. We were also concerned about the house. We’ve had to deal with burst pipes and heating issues in the past. It was quite stressful. Now I don’t have to worry about any house issues, and Mum doesn’t have to worry either. And I know that she’s up to date with all her vaccinations and she’s being kept safe and warm.”

Greensleeves Care’s latest campaign, Warmth of Care, offers free information and support for families worried about their older loved ones this season. It is designed to help them identify changing support needs, approach the subject of care with loved ones, and be able to make confident choices, whether now or in the future.

Paul Newman, Chief Executive of Greensleeves Care, said:

“These new figures show clearly that many families worry about their loved ones more in winter and often escalate their support, which can lead to them feeling stretched and overwhelmed.

“We see this often through our work, and our message to families feeling concerned is that they are not alone. At Greensleeves Care our goal is to ensure that more older people can access high-quality and person-centred care. This starts by helping them and their families identify the level of support they need, have successful conversations around care, and explore their options in good time. That is what our Warmth of Care campaign is all about.

“Winter is a prime opportunity to spot for changes in the care needs of our older relatives and friends. Organisations like us can help anyone feeling worried to start thinking about, and planning for, care support well before reaching crisis point.”


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