STAFFORDSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up with Age UK to deliver a ground-breaking initiative which will highlight and reduce home-based risks faced by older people.
The scheme, which was first launched in South Staffordshire, will now be rolled out across Tamworth.
SAfER – Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk will see firefighters taking a community based preventative approach to reducing excess winter deaths, Accident and Emergency admissions and demand on acute services.
The SAfER scheme, which is currently commencing in Tamworth, followed by Stoke-on-Trent, utilises the Service’s unique position of trust within the community which enables firefighters to enter the homes of some of the county’s most vulnerable residents.
Firefighters will deliver life-saving advice, identify potential fire hazards and carry out health and well-being checks for those aged 65 and over, referring people to Age UK should they need further support or services.
SAfER will work alongside Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s other preventative initiatives including the free Home Fire Risk Checks. The life-saving checks help the Service identify potential fire hazards in your home and make sure you know what to do in order to reduce these. They will also help you plan an escape route if there is a fire and ensure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
Alan Snell, Station Manager in Central Risk Reduction, said: “The fire and rescue service is in a fairly unique position in that we are often able to get across the threshold to speak to people where other organisations may struggle to gain access.
“We are working with Age UK to run the ‘Safer’ project in order to help protect people over 65 who can be among some of the more vulnerable members of our community. We have identified a number of ‘at risk’ areas in Tamworth and South Staffordshire to run the pilot initially and are currently working on identifying areas in Stoke-on-Trent.
“When firefighters carry out free Home Fire Risk Checks, they will not only be looking into potential fire hazards, they will be extending the remit to include health and wellbeing checks. This will include finding out if people feel lonely, if they are able to heat their homes and whether they can afford to buy food. It is a far more holistic approach that looks at how people are coping as a whole. We will be working with our partners from the local councils and the police as well as in the voluntary sector in order to signpost people to the help and support that they require. The aim is to ensure that our residents are as safe and healthy as possible and to enable them to keep their independence for as long as they can.”
Nick Maslen, Chief Executive Age UK South Staffordshire said: “Age UK is delighted to be working with SFRS on this innovative project which builds on our key skills in supporting older people through engaging a range of advice and practical help tailored to meet their needs. We will be assessing these needs through guided conversations following up referrals from the Fire Service teams, and ensuring the lives of these vulnerable adults are improved and that they are able to take more control of their futures”.