A pilot has been launched which sees North Wales Fire and Rescue Service working alongside the Single Point of Access in Denbighshire to help safeguard people in the home against a fall.
The aim is to make better use of the resources available to allow individuals to live a more healthy and active life, maintain their independence and reduce social isolation.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is moving towards adopting a more integrated approach to home safety which will enable working collaboratively with other emergency services, local authorities and partners to ensure residents remain safe in their homes.
This approach will not only consider the risk of fire but also other issues of safety, such as security and mobility, so that more vulnerable residents in particular will be provided with the best advice available from a whole variety of sources, stemming from just one home visit.
As part of this approach, a 'Falls in the Home' pilot has been launched in Denbighshire that involves fire and rescue staff who are undertaking Home Safety Checks helping to determine whether a person is at risk from a fall in the home, and if so then generating a referral to the Denbighshire Falls Prevention Service.
Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, explains: “One in three people aged over 65 will fall each year and this increases to one in two when 80 years of age is reached. Nationally 250,000 people are admitted to accident and emergency hospital departments each year with falls related injuries.
“Often the people who suffer from falls in the home are the same people who we as a Service would be targeting as they are also at an increased risk of fire. This is therefore an excellent opportunity to deliver a more integrated home safety check and a referral to our partners where appropriate which will in turn help keep our most vulnerable residents safe.
“Our community safety staff have undergone training provided by the Denbighshire Falls Prevention Co-ordinator who is integrated as part of the Single Point of Access. Such partnership working is paramount in ensuring North Wales is a safer place to live, work or visit.
"We are already regularly engaging with the public and entering their homes to carry out Home Safety Checks and are well place to be able to identify those in need of further support. Our Home Safety Checks have led to a visible reduction in the number of accidental fires in the home. Therefore by asking a few simple questions in addition to fire safety we are able to assist in making that person safer in general.”
The Denbighshire Falls Prevention Service is based on the evidence that was proving successful elsewhere.
Up until recently, an individual in need of medical or social services help may have had to wait several weeks before being seen whilst their requirements would be referred to the appropriate department.
To overcome this problem, Denbighshire County Council, the National Exercise Referral Scheme and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board have collaborated to form a Falls Prevention Service which follows guidelines set out by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.
Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Social Care, said: “The Council has worked with the Health Board over the last 12 months to provide a single point of access that ensures efficient access to information, advice and assistance to promote health, well-being and independence.
"The service focuses on identifying the needs of the caller from the initial enquiry, making sure they get the right response which may include signposting to other services in the local community or directed to the correct service. It also enables people to access the wide variety of support available in their own communities.
“One of the primary targets for the Falls Prevention Service is to reduce the number of falls people are experiencing and as such reduce the associated number of injuries, calls to the ambulance service, hospital admissions, the need for treatment, and all the associated costs which can be reinvested in other areas of treatment and care.”
The Falls Risk Assessment Tool is used identify the members of the community who have had a fall or who are at risk of falling. Once identified through five simple closed questions, people are then referred to the service for a full assessment to reduce or eliminate their risk of falling which may include further referral onto further services such as: physiotherapy, exercise classes, home modifications, referral onto third sector services or simply a referral back to their GP for a review of their medication.
The training required to use the assessment tool has been delivered to multiple agencies such as social services, community therapists, care and repair agencies, Wales Ambulance Service and the Red Cross, and now includes North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and it will soon be delivered to North Wales Police.
Stuart Millington added: “Denbighshire will be the first county in which our staff will use the Falls Risk Assessment Tool in this way – and depending on results we may look at expanding this more widely.”
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service offers free Home Safety Checks, where a member of the Service will visit your home to provide advice on staying safe.
* To register for a free Home Safety Check, please call the bilingual 24 hour free hotline on 0800 169 1234 or visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk
To contact the Single Point of Access, please phone 0300 456 1000. People can also access the SPoA via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org