Happy New Year and welcome to another edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Christina Uppenkamp, Director of Home Instead Dartford.

The start of the year is traditionally a time when lots of people focus on creating new healthy habits, so we have decided to take this opportunity to suggest one of our own. Carrying out an annual home safety check is something that you can do in just a few hours once a year and it could help to keep you and your family healthy and safe. Here are our suggestions for how to go about it.

Make sure you have emergency numbers to hand: Keep phone numbers for the emergency services, a reliable family member or friend and your doctor somewhere easy to access in a hurry. If you keep a mobile phone with you at all times, save your emergency numbers there. If you don’t, write them clearly and leave them next to every phone in your home.

Book a fire safety check: Lots of fire departments offer a free home fire safety check and install smoke detectors free-of-charge as well. Why not contact the local fire department and arrange for them to visit your home? Or ask a family member or friend to test your existing smoke detectors to make sure they are still working fine.

Remove hazards to prevent falls: Check each area of your home to see whether there is anything you could fix or move to make the space safer. Secure rugs, so that they don’t slip as you walk on them, move loose wires and other trip hazards, and make sure that routes you walk often are clear of objects. If you are wearing a falls alarm, make sure it is regularly tested to ensure if can help you in an emergency. Have someone check your outside lighting to ensure you can safely see steps and pathways in darker months and ask for help to get your driveway gritted on icy days to avoid falls.

Install safety measures: If manoeuvring around the bathroom is challenging for you, or feels unsafe, consider having grab rails installed to help you and putting a rubber mat in the bath to prevent slips. Make sure you have a sturdy banister running along your stairs and consider anywhere else in the home where safety features could make life easier. Social Services or an Occupational Therapist can conduct a needs assessment for you to establish if you require certain equipment to stay safe at home.

Home Instead also offers a sensor system (no cameras, no voice recording) for lone living people to help keep them safe by sending alerts to friends and family or even the emergency services if they had a fall or have not moved in a particular room for a certain amount of time. Just give our office a call to learn more about this.
Change the code to your key safe: It’s a great idea to change the code to your key safe regularly, especially if you have people in your home on a regular basis, such as cleaners, carers, doctors and delivery people.

You may choose to add additional points into your home safety check. However you go about it, begin by asking yourself whether you feel safe and secure in your home and what you would do in an emergency, then put in place any measures you need.

If you would like to suggest a future topic for this column or have questions about our home care services, please get in touch with Christina on c.uppenkamp@dartford.homeintead.co.uk or via 01322 923750.