Health Alerts & Wellbeing

Tips for keeping cool in hot weather

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks.

As the hot weather hits this summer, make sure it does not harm you or anyone you know. The heat can affect anyone, but some people are at greater risk from it.

For some people - especially those with disabilities, underlying health conditions and older people, as well as those who can't adapt their behaviour to keep cool or who are exposed to high levels of heat because of where they live or work - the summer heat can bring real health risks.

The main health risks posed by a heatwave are: 

  • Not having enough water (dehydration)
  • Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • Heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which are potentially serious conditions that can occur if you get too hot.


Easy Read Guidance

Download an easy-read guide to The Heatwave Plan for England: To protect the health of people from the effects of hot weather.

Watch out for signs of heat-related illness

If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature during hot weather or after physical exertion, you should stay alert to the possibility of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Find out more about the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and when to get help. 

The top ways to stay safe when the heat arrives are to: 

  • Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated. Older people, those with disabilities and underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk.
  • If you live alone, ask a relative or friend to phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.
  • Stay cool indoors: some of us will spend more time at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool.
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
  • If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately, keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines. 
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. 
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat.
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling.
  • Check the latest weather forecast and temperature warnings.
  • During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief, take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into open water to cool down.


Adults with Down's Syndrome: Have you had your letter from your GP?

It’s now more than a month since adults with Down’s syndrome were added to the list of people who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV).

GPs have been instructed by the NHS to ensure the records of all their adult patients who have Down’s syndrome have been coded as being on the CEV list. 

GPs were also provided with a letter that explained the change, along with an easy-read version to send to their patients.

Sadly, we are aware that some of our clients who have Down’s syndrome have not received letters from their GPs. 

This means they will not be prioritised for vaccination and cannot register for priority shopping slots and delivery of medication.

If the person you care for has not received their letter, please contact your surgery to make sure the records are correct. 

This is particularly important as if you are not on the CEV list you will not be able to access the Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

You can download a template letter designed by the Downs Syndrome Association, which may be useful.

If you need support in contacting your GP, one of our Family Advisers will help. Please call us on 0118 966 2518. 

Adults with Down’s syndrome are on the vaccine prioritisation list at the same level as those aged 70+.

The vaccination priority list:

1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. All those 75 years of age and over
4. All those 70 years of age and over and 
clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. All those 65 years of age and over
6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
7. All those 60 years of age and over
8. A those 55 years of age and over
9. All those 50 years of age and over.


Abdominal Cancers: 'Help us, Help You'  

NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with Public Health England, have launched the ‘Abdominal Cancers’ phase of the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign, to highlight that persistent tummy troubles could be signs of cancer. The campaign encourages people who have been suffering from diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more to speak to their GP.

Persistent tummy troubles can be signs of a number of cancers, including bowel, ovarian or pancreatic  cancer. Around 84,000 people are diagnosed with abdominal cancers in England each year but people who are suffering with symptoms may be reluctant to visit their GP; they may be embarrassed about their symptoms, or concerned that they might be wasting their doctor’s time, or they may just put their tummy troubles down to getting older.

In addition, people may be concerned that they will be a burden to the NHS who are also dealing with COVID-19. The campaign reminds people that the NHS has adapted its services and can still see patients safely.

While it’s probably nothing serious, any of these symptoms could be a sign of something that needs treatment. If it is cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable and can save lives.

Visit for more information.



Managing your health at home 

To maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, you are advised to stay at home as much as possible. While you are at home it's still easy to get NHS help and support using your smartphone, tablet or computer.

The Health at Home webpage has information letting you know how to: 

  • contact your GP
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • manage long-term conditions
  • maintain your mental and physical wellbeing

Do you need help with a current health concern? You can get help from a healthcare professional online at home.

Coronavirus How to stay safe. Wash hands regularly. Use a tissue for coughs and bin it. Don't touch your face or eyes with your hands.


Taking the fear out of breast screening

Do the test for it – go for it is the message behind a new short video, which aims to take the fear out of breast screening for women with learning disabilities. Cover of Easy Read Breast Screening Leaflet

Made by, and for, women with learning disabilities the film encourages women not to be scared of screening and to have the test if they want to.

It features a variety of women with learning disability including someone who had never had a mammogram, someone who has to come back for a recall and someone who has had breast cancer diagnosed by screening.

The project to make the film was led by Ingrid Fuchs, a lead clinical nurse specialist at Avon Breast Screening together with biggerhouse film on behalf of Public Health England (PHE).

PHE has also developed easy read guidance accompanied by images explaining what happens when a woman comes for a mammogram.

Do the test - go for it! A film by women with learning disabilities for women with learning disabilities.


Not sure what to do? Call NHS 111



Helpful tool for assessing the eyesight of people with a learning disability

Many people with learning disabilities may not be able to tell others if they have concerns about their vision. Pair of spectacles

Seeability has developed a useful resource to help carers and anyone who supports someone with a learning disability observe how effectively they're able to see.

The Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) is easy to use and is suitable for use by carers, supporters and learning disability professionals. 

The FVA helps you gather useful information about how much the person is able to see and how they use their sight - which can then be shared at eye tests and hospital eye clinic appointments.

Download a pdf of the Functional Vision Assessment.


It's time to talk about poo

It’s estimated that half of people with a learning disability experience long-term constipation.

Causes include poor diet, dehydration, stress, lack of exercise, some medications, lack of monitoring bowel health and some physical conditions.

Many of these are commonly experienced by people with learning disabilities and, if left uncured, can cause discomfort, pain and sometimes death.

Constipation can be dangerous if not managed effectively but everyone is comfortable talking about their bowel movements.

Watch Poo & You - an animated guide to constipation by Dimensions.


Cervical Screening Saves Lives


Smear tests aren’t easy for everybody, but there are ways to make them better. They prevent 75% of cervical cancers, so while they may not be pleasant, they are important. 

Download an easy-read guide from the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, which explains what happens during a smear test. 


Take your doctor's advice on antibiotics

Be clear on cancer - Easy Read Leaflet

If you notice blood in your pee, even if it's 'just the once', tell your doctor.  It might not be  Be Clear on Canceranything serious, but there is a chance that it could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. 

Finding cancer early makes it more treatable. 

You can download an easy read leaflet, which tells you about bladder or kidney cancer.

You can also find further information at

Blood in your pee? Your doctor will want to know



Queen Victoria Chiropody Clinic

Feet are critical to everyday life and problems with them can cause misery and mobility difficulties. You might not be able to reach your feet to cut your toe nails or may have a more complicated foot issue that needs treating by a professional.

The Queen Victoria Chiropody Clinic is a charity which provides foot care services to anyone living in Reading or Earley, who is aged over 60 or unable to manage their foot care because of a disability or medical condition.

Treatments include: Aching feet

  • Corn and callous treatment
  • General and diabetic foot care
  • Nail trimming/hard skin removal 
  • Ingrown nail treatments
  • Treatment for fungal infections of the nail and skin
  • General foot health advice.


Charges made for treatments represent about half the true cost with the balance provided by the charity.

The clinic is based at 17 St John’s Road, Reading RG1 4EB.

Call 0118 959 0306