Social services – Adaptation
The adaptation measures of social services include drawing up an adaptation strategy for various customer groups in case of natural disasters and extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves. In addition, the needs of mental health work should be assessed with regard to the impacts of climate change.
Attention to vulnerable population groups
In the social sector, climate change adaptation strategies are faced with the challenge of answering to the different needs of an extensive customer base. Since studies to the adaptation needs in the industry have only begun, instructions and best adaptation practices will be specified according as clarifications progress. Climate change can have a varying impact in different areas. Thus, there is no unambiguous adaptation method for social services, but the adaptation work in each municipality is begun with an impact inspection.
It has been stated that most vulnerable population groups with limited means, such as the elderly, children, ailing and low income people, suffer the most from the impacts of climate change. The number of elderly people grows rapidly so their needs should be paid particular attention to ensure help is available quickly enough in a crisis situation and afterwards. In addition, since they may have a weaker local knowledge, weaker social networks to cope with exceptional circumstances or an inadequate ability to understand for example notifications from authorities, residents speaking a foreign language or who have recently moved to the area may be at risk in exceptional circumstances.
Support and instructions for the local residents
Psychological impacts caused by climate change may form a notable part of the social impacts of climate change. In many cases, climate change is perceived as a heavy, global threat. In addition, experiencing natural disasters, such as floods and storms, may have an effect on the mental wellbeing by causing anxiety, fear and feeling of despair. Moreover, snowless winters and cloudy weather can increase depression. However, it is not yet possible to estimate how extensive the impact of darkening winters may be.
Mitigation of climate change and adaptation to it will change the lives of local residents in many ways. For their part, social services can inform the residents of the adaptation to climate change and provide advice and support in case of exceptional circumstances such as heat waves or floods.