Assess the nature of the problem in your area


Identify locations with high proportions of older people in your area using the Climate Just map tool.


Identify the magnitude and likelihood of hazards associated with the changing climate, including flooding and heatwaves.

  • Consider how patterns of older people and other groups who are more broadly sensitive and susceptible to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events compare with patterns of potential exposure to flooding and heatwaves.New finer resolution data are available for flood vulnerability and current and future flood disadvantage. See Which places are disadvantaged? for more information.   
  • Examine the local impacts of extreme weather events including their location, timing, costs and the effectiveness of responses by recording the local experiences in your area to help support continuous learning.


Review the Case studies section to see what others have done.


Consider the following actions to help build resilience for older people. See additional related actions associated with older people in ill-health.


Use additional resources to identify particularly sensitive individuals, groups and locations.

See How can we do it? (Section 5. above) for more ideas about where to get information.

Identify where the most sensitive individuals live. The map tool provides information about where there are particularly high proportions of older people, but it is also important to remember that:

  • All communities will have some vulnerable older people within them. Actions may differ for places with a high density of older people and places where there may be fewer older people but where they may be more socially or physically isolated.
  • Not all older people are equally vulnerable and there is a wide spectrum of vulnerability. It is helpful to try and differentiate needs and to recognise that not all older people require the same level or type of help.2 A blanket response during extreme events may seem equitable but in fact isn’t. Resources used to help people who have fewer needs or who are readily able to help themselves reduces capacity to support those who have greater needs or who cannot help themselves without suffering disproportionate and longer-term impacts on their health and wellbeing. Different levels of vulnerability within older age groups may also help to determine the timings of support and how it is offered. Indeed, some older people may be better supported through longer term and broader measures designed to enhance independence.3 Targeting resources during events could help to relieve some of the pressure on health and social care systems which are likely to be particularly stretched due to impacts on infrastructure and care professionals themselves, who may themselves be dealing with impacts.4
  • Identify the location of sensitive groups in institutions, for example by working with site managers and staff in care homes and hospitals to help target responses.
  • Use the Strategic Health Asset Planning and Evaluation (SHAPE) tool to access a range of health indicators at fine geographical scales and levels of service provision (areas representing populations of 1000-3000).
  • Use the Public Health Outcomes Framework tools to gather additional information, for example, on older people’s perceptions of community safety, which may affect their responses.
  • Use the map portal to look for other indicators of wider community vulnerability, which may affect the ability of older people to prepare for, respond to and recover from events like floods and heatwaves. This echoes other recommendations for revisiting demographic profiles and could be combined with other data resources, for example through data resources like MOSAIC.


Ensure that a full range of issues are incorporated into organisational risk registers.


Raise awareness of climate change to build adaptive capacity among sensitive individuals and groups.

  • Raise awareness among older people of the potential impacts from extreme weather events using existing guidance and public-orientated information bulletins, many of which have specific guidance for older people. Consider appropriate outreach activities for marginalised groups and those who are particularly susceptible to the impacts of high temperatures and the health impacts of flooding. According to a report by the London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP), in locations with a highly transient population, information may need to be more frequently issued or made available in different ways and there may be other particular needs for people who have only recently arrived to a local area. Find out more about raising awareness.
  • Raise awareness among social and health care staff. There are also recommendations in the LCCP report that climate change adaptation needs to be built into training programmes for those working in health and social care. It is important to ensure that all staff members, especially those in day-to-day contact with people with vulnerabilities, are aware of the issues and of appropriate adaptation measures so that they are considered as part of everyday working activities. See the following links to advice for different staff groups:
    • Advice for health and social care practitioners: supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave.
    • Advice for care home managers and staff: supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave.
    • Consider the range of threats which can affect how climate change affects older people and develop measures which can be reactive to individuals’ changing circumstances (see Figure 6).


Figure 5: Opportunities and threats to the independence and wellbeing of older people from Don’t stop me now: Preparing for an ageing population, Audit Commission Local Government National report July 2008


Encourage older people to make flood plans for their own safety but also to help protect pets and important personal possessions.  Some older people may be motivated through making preparations for companion animals. It is also important to recognise that many older people are also carers, for example of partners or grandchildren, and so may need additional support for this reason. See the NHS’s advice about older carers.


Develop local plans that reduce the impact of heatwaves and floods on sensitive individuals and which protect the systems through which care is delivered to them. It is recommended that plans build from national guidelines but are strongly tailored to specific local circumstances (see the Map tool for more). Plans should aim to make climate change adaptation part of general risk management and not just reserved for emergency situations. If this is achieved it helps to ensure that information is readily available when it is required, often when normal communication channels are particularly stretched. It also helps to establish measures which can help to reduce exposure and build adaptive capacity but which require a longer time-frame to be effective.

  • Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Sustainable Development Management Plans and the work of coordinating bodies such as Health and Well-Being Boards provide useful mechanisms for considering the needs of older people. See more information about actions to help people in ill-health. Researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute note that a wider perspective can be particularly helpful for older people, emphasising what can be achieved through independent action, stronger community ties and better local accessibility.
  • Specific adaptation plans. Although broadly conceived actions addressing multiple objective actions are needed, more targeted actions will also be required for older people with specific needs. The research carried out as part of the Built Infrastructure for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC) project has fed into the development of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s recommendations for developing an adaptation plan for building climate resilience.  Other specific actions which can be considered are explicit consideration of the appropriateness of older people’s housing and any retrofitting which can be targeted to such housing, whilst also ensuring that the housing continues to meet the day-to-day needs of older people. More information can be found in this report by the Department of Health, the Department of Communities and Local Government, and the Homes and Communities Agency.


Reduce exposure of vulnerable individuals by considering ways that buildings and local environments can be better adapted.

  • Enhance green space and green infrastructure in the design of health and social care facilities as well as more widely in urban areas in order to offset the impacts of flooding and to reduce temperatures.
  • Consider how building adaptations can be made suitable for older people with restricted mobility. For example, there may be trade-offs between elevating plug sockets and electrical equipment in bungalows and the need to ensure day-to-day access is safe and comfortable. Consider involvement of Care and Repair and Home Improvement Agencies.


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  1. See Map tool (exposure and disadvantage maps)
  2. Whittle, et al. (2010) ‘After the rain: Learning the lessons from flood recovery in Hull’, final project report for Flood, Vulnerability and Urban Resilience: A real-time study of local recovery following the floods of June 2007 in Hull. Lancaster: Lancaster University.
  3. Audit Commission (2008) Don’t stop me now. Preparing for an ageing population Local government National report July 2008
  4. Whittle, et al. (2010) ‘After the rain: Learning the lessons from flood recovery in Hull’, final project report for Flood, Vulnerability and Urban Resilience: A real-time study of local recovery following the floods of June 2007 in Hull. Lancaster: Lancaster University.