Everyone can help themselves to keep healthy and well during this busiest time of the year for GP surgeries and hospital emergency departments.

Here are some hints and tips to stay well over winter.

What you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones fit and healthy

Get ready for winter

  • make sure you get your free flu and covid vaccinations when you’re offered them – you can find out how to register and book vaccines on the NHS inform website.
  • make sure your carer’s emergency plan is up-to-date and keep it visible.

Over the festive period

  • if you or your loved ones feel unwell, phone NHS 24 on 111 and you’ll be guided to the right service
  • help yourself to a healthy festive season:
    • know when your GP practice is open over the festive period
    • make sure you order enough medication or repeat prescriptions in advance
    • know how to find out your nearest emergency pharmacy is (phone NHS 24 on 111).

During winter

  • take action to guard against falls, particularly if you, or the person you care for, are unsteady on your feet
  • stay warm
  • keep a supply of cold and flu treatments to hand
  • eat well and keep your cupboards stocked in case you can’t get to the shops
  • keep emergency contact information to hand:
    NHS 24 – 111
    Social Care Direct – 0131 200 2324.
  • know what to do in the event of severe weather.

Tips on how you can take extra care over winter if you’re unsteady on your feet

Be safe at home

  • make sure your home is well lit
  • always put lights on when you get up during the night
  • remove any trip hazards – rugs, cables and clutter.

Stay active

  • walk as much as possible and don’t sit down for long periods.

Keep warm and safe in wintry weather

  • wear shoes with traction to help on slippery surfaces.
  • dress warmly – being cold can make you tense and hurry
  • give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to go so you can take your time
  • keep your hands free to support balance and avoid carrying heavy items
  • wear gloves and keep hands out of your pockets.

If someone you care for is unsteady on their feet, you can find lots of resources to help on our falls webpage

Where to get more information and stay up to date

Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership


  • 0131 622 6666

NHS Inform

The City of Edinburgh Council

NHS Lothian

Ready Scotland

Support for carers over the festive period

Edinburgh Carer Support Team

  • 0131 536 3371
  • open on 27, 28 and 29 December and from 3 January


  • 0131 622 6666
  • open 27 and 28 December (10am to 4pm) and from 3 January

Carers UK helpline

  • 0808 808 7777 (free to call from landlines and mobiles)
  • open Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm including Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year’s day

Samaritans is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – you can call free anytime, from any phone on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

The Edinburgh Crisis Centre is open 24/7. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone, you can contact the friendly confidential team on freephone 0808 801 0414, by text 07974 429 075 or email crisis@edinburghcrisiscentre.org.uk