During the winter months, it is very important to keep care facility buildings well maintained in order to protect the occupants from the elements. This is especially true when it comes to residential care homes. Draughts, leaks, slippery or cracked surfaces and badly maintained facilities can cause additional problems for vulnerable people. Therefore, autumn is the ideal time to carry out an assessment of your care home to work out what needs doing in terms of repairs upgrades and preparations for colder weather ahead. Here are some key areas to look at.
Gutters and drains
Increased rainfall, autumn leaves clogging things up and frost and ice can all play havoc with gutters, drains and exterior pipes. Blocked gutters can also overflow and put pressure on the roof. Check now that everything is working as it should be and replace any broken or cracked parts of the drainage system. Clear out leaves and debris to allow water to run freely through. Wrap pipes in insulating material to prevent them from freezing and bursting in sub-zero temperatures.
Windows and doors
Gaps around the edges of windows and doors can let in a lot of cold air. Inspect each area carefully and repair, plug or replace leaky parts as required. Place draught excluders by each door leading to the outside, as this can stop the cold from coming in underneath. Add extra insulation by hanging a thick curtain up by the front and back door. You can also add metal covers over the keyholes to stop cold air entering through them that way.
Electrics and heating
Winter is the worst time for the central heating system to break down. Especially when vulnerable people are living in the property, as they can feel the effects of colder weather more than others. Also, as daylight hours grow shorter, having working electric lights and appliances is crucial for the afternoons and evenings. Bleed all radiators and make sure that all gas boilers and appliances are working safely. Schedule a gas and electricity maintenance check now too, so that any problems can be caught now and put right before demand for service engineers rises in the colder months.
Driveways and paths
A particularly dangerous hazard for older and vulnerable people in the winter months is the increased risk of slipping on a patch of black ice, frost or settled snow. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and stay ahead of any freezing conditions by keeping driveways and paths clear from ice and snow. If you use a specially formulated ice melt product, choose one that does not contain rock salt or urea, as these can be dangerous to surrounding ecosystems and wildlife. They can also damage carpets and flooring if walked indoors on people’s shoes. Check for cracks or damage to paths and driveways too. These can allow water to seep inside, freeze and cause even more damage and cracks. Get any that you spot repaired right away, before the weather turns really cold.
Gardens and grounds
While people will not venture outside to walk in the garden as much during the winter, that doesn’t mean it can be ignored until spring. Take steps now to protect your plants, grass, ornaments and garden furniture. Bring fragile plants inside, as well as any pots, bird baths, furniture etc. If you cannot bring a statue or item of furniture indoors, wrap it thoroughly in something insulating to avoid contact from frost. Don’t forget to leave some water and food out for the birds, as they can find it harder to find sustenance at this time of year. This will also attract more visits from them, which will please and entertain your residents.
Bedrooms and public areas
While you are carrying out your winter inspections, don’t forget the bedrooms and public areas. Check for signs of damage, leaks, mould etc. and make time for a deep clean. This will help keep people’s surroundings and belongings hygienic and prevent the spread of infections and other seasonal illnesses. As Christmas gets closer, dig out the decorations and plan where you are going to hang them, taking into account the health and safety of everyone who lives and works in the building.