'Self-care' is all about doing simple things that will help you stay well at home. A lot of common ailments and minor illnesses can be safely looked after at home. This includes things like colds and flu, headaches, upset stomachs or diarrhoea, and sprains and strains.
The NHS website houses a great range of tips and advice on a range of different medical issues. If you want to find out more about how to take care of yourself at home with a particular issue you're having, please visit the NHS website's health A-Z pages.
Some things are always good to remember when it comes to self-care, regardless of what ailment or illness you might be experiencing. Follow these top tips to keep safe and well at home:
- Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet, with common medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen, indigestion remedies, and first aid materials like plasters. You can buy these at most supermarkets and pharmacies for a low price.
- Order any repeat prescriptions you have in good time so that you don't run out. You can quickly and easily order your repeat prescription through the NHS App, or via NHS online. Many GP practices also offer the option to order your prescriptions through their website. If you don't use the internet, you can get your repeat prescription by approaching your practice.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Try to stay warm. The NHS recommends heating your house to at least 18 degrees if you are able to
Pharmacists are trained people who have been through at least five years of training. They are experts when it comes to treating minor health concerns.
All pharmacies can give you advice about cold and flu, sore throats, tummy trouble, sexual health concerns, and lots more. They can also support you with questions you may have about medications you are on.
Many pharmacies also offer emergency contraception, certain health screenings, and advice about making healthy lifestyle decisions, like stopping smoking or managing your weight better. You can find your nearest local pharmacy on the NHS website.
Your GP practice
Lots of different minor ailments and illnesses can be treated well at home either by using our self-care tips or by getting advice from your pharmacy. However, if you need further help your GP practice can support you. If you're not sure whether it's time to contact your GP just yet about your issue, you can find more information via the NHS website. Just type your issue into the search bar at the top of the page to get advice.
Our GP practices now all offer remote appointments as well as face-to-face appointments. When you call your practice, or request an appointment online, trained people at the practice will consider the information you've shared and help you get the type of appointment you need. If your issue is not urgent you may be asked to wait until a non-urgent appointment is available.
If you've got a medical problem that you feel is urgent, please think 111 first. NHS 111 is open 24/7, every day of the year, and offers expert advice and support to people. If you need an urgent appointment with a healthcare professional, they can set this up for you. And if you do need to get seen urgently in one of our Accident & Emergency departments, they can help arrange an arrival time for you so that you don't have to wait as long.
You can reach 111 by calling 111 or by visiting 111.nhs.uk. If you're in a mental health crisis you can call 111 and select the mental health option for urgent support, and if you or someone you care for is receiving palliative care you can call 111 and pick option 3 for palliative care advice.
Urgent Treatment Centres and Minor Injury Units
Your local Minor Injury Unit or Urgent Treatment Centre can help you with lots of different problems, including wounds, cuts and bruises, bites, minor burns, minor head injuries, eye problems and ear ache. Some locations can also offer X-rays if you think you may have broken something.
Locally we have an Urgent Treatment Centre in Peterborough, with Minor Injury Units in Ely, Doddington, and Wisbech. Most of these locations are open on weekends, and several stay open on Bank Holidays.
You can find the opening hours of these services on our Local Services page.
Digital NHS services
You can quickly and easily access a number of NHS services and resources online.
Download the NHS App
The NHS App is a simple and secure way of accessing NHS services from your smartphone or tablet. Services offered through the NHS App include a digital tool to check your symptoms, appointment booking facilities, and information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination. You can also use the app to order repeat prescriptions in many cases.
Rather than calling 111, use NHS 111 online for quick and easy access to advice and information. 111.nhs.uk is available to check the symptoms of anyone aged 5+.
If you have run out of a repeat prescription and urgently need more medication, you can request this via NHS 111 online too by visiting their emergency prescription page.
You can use NHS.uk to find a wealth of information about common conditions, symptoms, and treatments, as well as any prescribed medications you take. You can also use this site to find a pharmacy, dentist, GP or urgent care service near you by using their dedicated NHS services page.
Accident & Emergency departments and 999
If you or someone you care for are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 999 urgently or travel to your nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department. Locally our A&E departments are based at Peterborough City Hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
999 and A&E are here to support those people with the most serious medical issues. Please do not call 999 or use A&E if your issue is not life-threatening, as this will help make sure that we keep staff at these services available for the people who need it most.
Examples of major, life-threatening situations where you must go to A&E or call 999 include loss of consciousness; a confused state that comes on suddenly; severe bleeding that you cannot stop, and serious burns. You can find out more about when to go to A&E on the NHS website.
Keeping warm inside your house
The NHS recommends that you heat your home to at least 18 degrees if you can, as this can help you stay well during winter. Draw your curtains overnight to keep warmth inside the house, and make sure there's nothing in front of your radiators (like furniture or your curtains) that may be blocking heat from flowing through you house.
Sitting still can reduce your body temperature, so if you sit down a lot during the day try to move about once every hour. Wearing lots of thin layers helps trap warm air better than just one big hoodie or chunky jumper, so layer up to stay as warm as possible.
If you are not able to, or would rather not, heat every room in your home at once, you can consider heating your bedroom just before bedtime whilst heating your living room or home office during the day. Draft excluders can be bought relatively cheaply and can help keep the heat inside your house.
Mental health tips for winter
Many of us may feel a little low at some points during winter. There are simple things you can do to look after your own mental health as best as you can:
- Get active. Exercising, whether intensely or lightly, can help lift your mood. You don't have to run a marathon to get the benefit - a simple stroll or a cycle trip around the block can already make a difference.
- Go outside. It's especially helpful for your mood to go outside and keep active, do try to get out - even if it's just for 10 minutes or so.
- Eat a balanced diet. What we eat can impact how we feel. Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Connect with others. Speak to family and friends or drop by your neighbour for a chat.
You can find further advice on looking after your mental health via Every Mind Matters.
Sometimes these tips won't be enough. If you need help, please don't be afraid to ask for it.
Reaching out for help
If you need help with your mental health, don't wait - reach out now. There's lots of national and local services available.
- NHS 111 and select the mental health option. NHS 111 is here for people who are in a mental health crisis. If you're in a crisis and need help now, call 111 and select the mental health option - 24/7, any day of the year.
- Lifeline - 0808 808 2121. Open every day between 11am-11pm, this service offers a listening ear and can give you information on how to manage your mental health.
- CPSL Mind - 0300 303 4363. Open 9.30am-5.30pm for queries and support.
- Centre 33 - 0333 414 1809. Open 12pm-5pm Monday to Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturdays, this service specialises in mental health advice and support for young people up to the age of 25.
- The Samaritans - 116 123. Open 24/7, every day of the year, this service offers a listening ear from trained volunteers.
- CALM Zone - 0800 58 58 58. Open 5pm-midnight every day of the year, the CALM team will offer advice if you're in need.
The above list of services is only a selection. You can find a full overview of services avialable locally and nationally, as well as a wealth of advice about your mental health, via Keep-Your-Head.com.
Advice about money and debt
The Money & Pensions Service has a dedicated website full of advice and tips on how to manage your money. You can access this service via moneyhelper.org.uk.
With the cost of living rising, we know some of our local people may sadly be at risk of getting in debt. If you are in debt, or are at risk of getting into this situation, help is available for you:
- Citizens Advice, or call 0800 240 4420 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
- Money Advice Service, or call 0800 138 7777 from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
- National Debtline, or call 0808 808 4000 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
- StepChange Debt Charity, or call 0800 138 1111 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Getting the support you're eligible for
If you are struggling with money, you may be eligible for help from the Council or the national Government.
The Councils run a service for people who are struggling to pay their bills or cannot afford to heat their home. You can contact this service via:
- Cambridge City, Fenland, Huntingdonshire or East Cambridgeshire, contact PECT at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0800 8021773
- Peterborough or South Cambridgeshire, contact LEAP at email@example.com or ring 0800 060 7567
The national Government has launched Help for Households, a campaign with a special website that will help you check whether you are entitled to certain financial support. This includes income support, help with energy bills, chilcare costs, and more. Visit Help for Households via helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk.
If you care for a serious ill child dependent on vital equipment to stay alive, you can reach out to Together for Short Lives for support with energy bills through their Emergency Fund. You can call this organisation via 0808 8088 100.