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Fire Safe and Well – the importance of person-centred care to identify health and wellbeing needs and reduce fatal fires

10th December 2019

Healthy London Partnership (HLP) and the London Fire Brigade (LFB) have been working in partnership to support the capital’s most vulnerable communities to stay safe in their homes, reduce risks around fire safety and address health and wellbeing needs.

This type of collaboration is a key component in the prevention agenda and was established after the LFB published their first Community Health Strategy in 2016 and a commitment was made to piloting a Fire Safe and Well approach in London. The Fire Safe and Well project was delivered between 2017 and 2019 by LFB and supported by HLP, it involved all of London’s 5 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), a pilot site in each STP area and 10 specially trained Community Safety Advisors (CSAs) who delivered home visits in each of the pilot boroughs. Each pilot site was chosen based on information gained from reviews carried out by STPs and the LFB – these areas were deemed to have the highest correlation between fire and health risks.

Targeting four core health priorities; falls prevention, smoking cessation, fuel poverty and social isolation, the aim was to engage people within their home environment to identify unaddressed needs and risks which make individuals more vulnerable to fire, as well as more susceptible to poor health and reduced wellbeing. Addressing these risk areas early on helps to reduce the number of individuals needing to access health, care and fire services in the long term. We also know that these risk areas place a significant cost burden on both the NHS and social care each year.

Data from the London Fire Brigade shows that, in London, smoking continues to be the leading cause of fatal dwelling fires – during this project, 35% of smokers were referred for support with smoking cessation. Speaking of the project, one Londoner who was visited by the Community Safety Advisors said,

I’ve not had a cigarette or anything similar for twenty weeks now.  This service has turned my life around.”

The consequences of social isolation and living alone combined with restricted mobility and therefore a reduced ability to escape in the event of a fire are factors which may place someone at increased risk of fire. Home Fire Safety Visits carried out by fire services nationally have contributed to a 40% reduction in fatal fires over a 10-year period, and around 80% of fire services have now begun to offer enhanced home visits with an additional focus upon health and wellbeing.

In order to Make Every Contact Count (MECC) an initiative from the wider public health workforce agenda, a bespoke training programme for the Community Safety Advisors was created to provide them with a framework for delivering the Fire Safe and Well visits. The training package supported them in having person-centred health and wellbeing conversations, as well as developing their understanding of local health and support services and creating links and referral pathways with local health and care teams.

In order to record data and capture findings effectively, a bespoke data collection system was also created that aligned with the priorities and capacity of each pilot site involved in the project. Data recorded also helped to provide information on the effectiveness of this type of approach in addressing fire safety and health promotion on a national level.

The project was deemed to be a successful pilot and helped to uncover gaps within the current system that can be addressed by such a service.  Through the visits, CSAs were able to uncover ‘unknown’ people who weren’t getting the support and help they needed.
The project has been successfully nominated for several national awards:

  • National Energy Action Heat Heroes Award – Winner
  • Advancing Healthcare Awards (Contributions to Public Health) – Shortlisted
  • Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards (Project of the Year) – Shortlisted
  • London Sport Awards (Physical Activity for Health) – Shortlisted

During the project, 1,255 visits were completed and from that 1,386 individuals received direct advice and intervention;

The pilot has now drawn to a close, and decisions about the future of Fire Safe and Well in London will be made by LFB in 2020, following the publication of a project evaluation report. HLP’s project lead commented,

“The pilot has demonstrated the unique opportunity that LFB has to identify vulnerable, hard to reach people, and assist them to access support that they may otherwise never have been aware of.  By working collaboratively with our borough partners, we have been able to support the achievement of all our organisations’ objectives.  The project has been a real testament to the mutual benefits of a partnership approach.”

For more information, read the project evaluation

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