Service efficiency
Nov 11, 2022

Making a winter plan for your service

Mark Topps shares tips for making a winter plan for your service and a template to get you started.

Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager

Table of contents

It's the time of year to start making your winter plan. The regulator sends reminders to ensure providers have a plan and local authorities may ask for a copy. But when I was a Registered Manager, there wasn't any information available about what to include or templates to fill in. This week I'm sharing my guide to winter planning and a template to use in your services.

Are you winter ready?

First, ask yourself if you're prepared for winter. Compile a list of things you to get done before we head into the colder months. Some things you may want to consider purchasing or reviewing are:

  • Salt to de-ice pathways and driveways.
  • A stock of tinned, dry foods and basic goods so you have a good supply. Consider the number of people you’ll need to cater for and how much you need to purchase and store.
  • A supply of torches or non-electrical lighting in case of power cuts.
  • Ensure all work vehicles and any community staff have an emergency pack in the car such as bottles of water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, a torch, a car charger, a blanket, spare clothing, a shovel etc.
  • Ensure the people you support have enough winter clothing and footwear and support them to make purchases should they wish to have more. Remember shoes should have a good drip to prevent slips and falls.

Know who’s at risk

Winter affects the people we're looking after more than the rest of the general population and it's important we know who’s at risk.

Complete a RAG system for each person you support so you know who you’d prioritise in an emergency.

Combatting the winter flu season

Can you believe it’s winter flu season again? It comes around far too quickly. However, we must be ready to beat the flu for another year. With COVID-19 to contend with as well, it's important we make plans for our staff and the people we support:

  • Ensure everyone who’s eligible is offered the flu and/or COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People should be provided with information and resources to make an informed decision, so put up posters (remember easy read) and leave resources around. A mythbuster document can help improve the uptake rate.
  • Liaise with health professionals regarding the vaccination of the people you support to ensure they're prioritised.
  • Start a flu campaign to promote awareness of the importance of the vaccine.
  • Ensure you have good infection control measures in place and audits are carried out on a regular basis.

Roles and responsibilities

Everyone needs to know their roles and responsibilities, especially when it comes to contingency planning and emergency situations.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps I had in place:

Frontline worker (care worker, senior care worker, auxiliary staff, chefs etc.)

  • Take reasonable care for their own personal safety and the safety of others
  • Be aware of what to do and who to contact in an emergency
  • Notify their line manager and follow the sickness policy and procedure if they are unable to attend work 
  • Report any emergencies to their line manager or on-call member of staff
  • Follow any instructions provided
  • Ensure your line manager has your correct emergency contact number
  • Ask if you’re unsure

Management staff (deputies, managers, directors, CEOs etc.)

  • Communicate effectively to ensure there are no misunderstandings
  • Record details of any accidents or emergencies
  • Complete reports and notifications in a timely manner
  • Ensure staff are trained and upskilled
  • Put business continuity plans in place and review them
  • Back up information and make sure it can be accessed on another work device

Recruitment and rota planning

Advertise any roles you have available as soon as possible. Recruitment is challenging at the moment, and it only gets worse over Christmas. Refresh adverts in the New Year as people often make resolutions and think about how they want to change things in their life at this time of year.

Plan inductions for new staff that do not fall over bank holiday periods.

Having your rotas done in advance will allow staff to see where they're working, and any overtime or gaps and give them more time to pick up outstanding shifts.

Check out my column on recruitment and retention for more advice.


Everyone’s facing a challenging time so check in with your regular suppliers to identify any potential issues. It's always worth shopping around and having a backup for your service.

It's wise to have a good supply but to not stockpile. Most suppliers like you to order on a regular basis, so audit what stock you have and what you need to plan for the future. If you use more than one supplier to reduce the risk of no supply, split the orders amongst them all so you're active on their systems.

Keeping warm

We need to keep our services warm as the people we support are at higher risk from the dangers of cold weather. Some steps you can take:

  • Train your staff so they can recognise when there’s a heating issue.
  • Keep the service at 18 °C at night if you can.
  • Close windows at night.
  • Add contact numbers for utility suppliers to your contingency plan.
  • Ensure your boiler and heating equipment have been serviced recently.
  • Have a backup plan for power cuts.
  • Have a supply of spare blankets, food and drink that can easily be heated in the event of power loss.
  • Consider hot water bottles or electric blankets for the people you support. Remember, don’t use them both at the same time and assess the risk of using these items.
  • Serve hot drinks on a regular basis.

Download my business continuity plan

Do you have a contingency plan in place? People often get in touch with me about contingency plans so I have created a free template for you to use in your service. Please ensure you make this specific to your service's requirements. Test and review the plan on a regular basis and update it as needed.

Winter planning does not need to be stressful and there's still plenty of time to get all this and more done. Once this is done and dusted off your to-do list, you can start planning Christmas!

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