The fire service will be delivering falls, crime and healthy aging advice to older people in Doncaster, when a new programme of ‘safe and well’ visits is launched this month.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has visited tens of thousands of homes across the borough to fit smoke alarms and advise residents on preventing fires for more than a decade.
But now it has teamed up with partners including Doncaster Council, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group and South Yorkshire Police to deliver enhanced ‘safe and well’ visits to extend the range of advice that’s given to the most vulnerable people.
The new visits will be targeted at people aged 65 or over and will include general health and wellbeing advice, falls risk assessments and crime prevention tips. People will then be referred to other agencies for specialist interventions and advice if needed.
Dozens of firefighters and community safety staff have been trained to deliver the new checks, achieving a qualification in health improvement from the Royal Society of Public Health.
Head of prevention and protection, Steve Helps, said: “Our established programme of home safety visits has contributed to a big drop in fires across South Yorkshire over the last decade. But we believe we can use the contact we have with some of the most vulnerable people in society to achieve far more than simply reducing fires.
“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So strengthening our knowledge and referral mechanisms through collaborative working such as this must surely benefit our public safety objectives, as well as those of partner agencies.”
Dr Rupert Suckling, Director Public Health, said: “Safe and Well checks could save lives and help stop people needing to go into hospital by providing health and wellbeing advice.
“Many fire hazards are similar to health issues, for example fall risks, and in some cases the problem can be seen and sorted out there and then. This is a great example of partners working together to help keep older people safe and well at home.”
Nationally, fire and rescue services, NHS England, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and other partners, including Age UK, have been working together to explore how they can encourage and deliver local action to reduce demand on health and social care systems and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.
In South Yorkshire, the fire service already hosts a monthly memory café for people living with dementia and their carers at Adwick fire station.
More than 5,000 people have been offered sight loss assessments, after fire service staff were trained in delivering a simple, five minute sight screening tool as part of the ‘Optimeyes’ scheme set up with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Fire crews also attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them.