For over 10 years Merseyside fire and rescue service have been carrying out interventions in people’s homes to reduce their risk from fire and to provide advice on actions to take in the event of fire. Although other factors have no doubt also been involved, this approach has resulted in a reduction of risk and drop in the number of deaths and injuries from accidental fires in the home.
Our brand and the esteem in which the service is held gives us access to people’s homes that others cannot achieve; people seem more likely to engage in difficult conversations with fire service staff than with others.
Therefore, Merseyside fire and rescue service have begun working more closely with colleagues in health and local authorities; to explore how the fire service might work to support them in improving health and quality of life outcomes for those most at risk in their communities which in turn will also help to reduce fire risk. The initiatives arising from collaboration have included; falls risk assessments, alcohol and smoking health advice and blood pressure screening.
From this the concept of a ‘Safe and Well’ visit has evolved. It is envisaged that, through their interactions with people in their homes, and with the necessary additional awareness training, advocates will be able to identify and act upon a significantly wider range of risks. Not only fire risks, but those that predispose people to a number of health issues that can significantly reduce life expectancy and/or quality of life.
Some of the successful outcomes of these interventions are highlighted in the following case studies.
In July, a service user was identified as having very high blood pressure. During the appointment a second reading was taken to confirm the blood pressure outcome which remained the same. Advice was given to the service user to contact their GP and book an appointment as soon as possible. The service user was able to book an emergency appointment that day and the GP put them on a 24-hour monitoring machine. Following this the service user is now on medication for high blood pressure.
In September a service user was identified by the fire service as requiring further support from the falls team due to them meeting the criteria for falls risk. When the falls team visited this person they were able to identify that this person was at high risk of having falls and were able to give advice and practice was provided on safe transfers/moving and handling to reduce the risk of falls. Toileting equipment was also identified as being required, as well as a benefit from physio input.
Another example identified by the fire service was a service user who had already been seen by the falls team the previous year and had most things in place. However due to a recent falls in the shower it was identified that she needed further adaptations in the bathroom. A referral was then made to Liverpool council for a level access shower which would have a long term impact on this service user’s quality of life.
In summary, the impact that the fire service has had on the number of referrals the falls team receive has increased by 7%.