A ground-breaking national partnership between Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Public Health England has been rolled out into Burton.
"Staffordshire is just one of three fire and rescue services chosen to pilot this ground-breaking project and we are delighted that it will now be able to benefit the people of Burton as well as those living in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The more in-depth visits allow us not only to focus on fire safety in the home but also to extend the checks to cover issues such the possibility of the residents suffering a fall, feeling isolated, living in cold homes and the importance of having a flu jab."
Station Manager in Central Prevent & Protect Dez Stoddart
Staffordshire was one of just three fire and rescue services across the country to be chosen to take part in the potentially life-saving partnership with Public Health England (PHE).
NHS England, Age UK and the Local Government Association also form part of the ‘Consensus Agreement’.
The ‘Winter Pressures’ project was initially started in Staffordshire Moorlands where, so far, more than 200 extended ‘Safe and Well’ checks have been carried out with 29 referrals being made to Age UK.
The visits are more in-depth than previous checks and focus specifically on vulnerable residents and those with complex needs.
As well as reducing the risk of a fire, they aim to decrease health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation which will, in turn, result in a reduction of people attending A&E, suffering broken hips and experiencing depression.
Station Manager in Central Prevent & Protect Dez Stoddart, who is leading the project, said: "As firefighters, we are in a fairly unique and privileged position as we are often able to speak to residents that some other organisations may find hard to reach.
"Staffordshire is just one of three fire and rescue services chosen to pilot this ground-breaking project and we are delighted that it will now be able to benefit the people of Burton as well as those living in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The more in-depth visits allow us not only to focus on fire safety in the home but also to extend the checks to cover issues such the possibility of the residents suffering a fall, feeling isolated, living in cold homes and the importance of having a flu jab.
"By picking up on these potentially life-threatening circumstances, intervening directly where we can, and making our partners aware of them at the earliest possible stage we can avoid the situation spiralling out of control and make a real difference to the quality of life that people experience. The Winter Pressures project is one of many successful initiatives that we are running in conjunction with our partners from the public sector, including the NHS, social care, councils and the police as well as private sector ogranisations. We will continue to work closely with partners to ensure that our residents are safe and healthy."
Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director, Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said: "Saving peoples' lives is the most important thing for firefighters. They have already had astonishing success in reducing deaths from fires and can now bring this experience to bear more widely. They are perfectly placed to spot the dangers facing the most vulnerable when making their hundreds of thousands visits each year to homes across the country. These pilots will enable us to demonstrate the impact of fire and rescue services intervening at scale to reduce winter related illnesses."
The Service is also running the SAfER – Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk – pilot scheme in both the north and south of the county. Firefighters are taking a community based preventative approach, together with colleagues from North and South Staffs Age UK, Age UK Stafford and Age UK Burton, based on evidence from a range of data sources in an attempt to reduce excess winter deaths, A&E admissions and demand on acute services. This initiative is running alongside the Public Health England Winter Pressures scheme.
It has also teamed up with Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP) following a review into a fatal fire. The process found that by working together the two organisations could have a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable people, helping to prevent further incidents from occurring in the future. Vulnerable people that members of staff from the NHS believe may be at risk of fire are now referred to the Service and a free Home Fire Risk Check is then carried out.
The partnership also works in the opposite direction with fire service personnel referring cases to SSOTP.