Firefighters to add heart and warmth checks to Safe and Well visits

Cheshire Firefighter conducting a heart and warmth check during a Safe and Well visits
For almost a year now Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) firefighters and advocates have been carrying out Safe and Well visits to the county’s residents aged over 65 or those considered at particular risk.
Currently, people receiving a Safe and Well visit are given advice about slips, trips and falls, bowel cancer screening awareness, smoking cessation and alcohol reduction, with an added initiative in Halton advising on atrial fibrillation. 
From Monday 15 January 2018, atrial fibrillation advice will be expanded to everyone receiving a Safe and Well visit in Halton, West Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group areas, as well as information about how to achieve affordable warmth in their homes across the whole of Cheshire.

35,000 Safe and Well visits conducted in Cheshire in 2017

Between 1st February and 3rd December 2017 our firefighters and advocates have carried out over 35,000 Safe and Well visits, with 8% of those visits resulting in a referral to health agencies. Without a Safe and Well visit, almost 3,000 people may have suffered adversely through lack of knowing where to turn or through not realising they may have something needing attention.

Atrial fibrillation checks

The Service has already been carrying out atrial fibrillation checks (heart checks) in the Halton area, as a pilot with Halton Clinical Commissioning Group which received funding from the Innovation Agency – Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, to buy supplies of MyDiagnostick, a mobile electro-cardiograph (ECG) screening tool. Halton firefighters were trained in the use of these.
Further training has been carried out with crews across the county in which they have been given information on the causes of atrial fibrillation and taught how to use the MyDiagnostick. A firefighter will carry out a simple ECG test to assess whether the householder has an irregular heartbeat. Anyone who tests positive is given a leaflet to explain they have been screened for atrial fibrillation by a trained firefighters, given basic information about what it means and advised to make an urgent GP appointment.

Winter warmth advice

Due to the success of our Safe and Well visits, NHS England (Cheshire and Merseyside Sub-Region) has also asked us to undertake some work to help address excess winter deaths in England, in particular by helping identify people at risk from affordable warmth issues as part of a Safe and Well visit.

The Service has agreed with the four Cheshire Local Authority Public Health teams that we will ask, as part of a visit, some high level screening questions on the householders’ ability to heat their home. This will identify whether they might be eligible for any benefits or grants to upgrade their heating system or improve insulation. We have also agreed that the referral mechanism will be to an energy efficiency charity called Energy Projects Plus who will directly follow up with the householder and offer help and support.

More about Safe and Well Visits

Find out more about the free 'Safe and Well Visits' for people who are aged over 65 and for people who are referred to us by partner agencies because they are considered to be at a particular risk:

Find out more about Safe and Well Visits

Winter warmth advice

Being snug and cosy in your home will help protect your health. View our winter warmth safety advice:

Winter warmth advice

Related images

Cheshire Firefighters doing a hearth check as part of a Safe and Well Visit