Partnership award for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Cheshire is one of three fire and rescue services to have received an award in recognition of their partnership work to reduce health inequalities.

Cheshire, Merseyside and West Midlands Fire & Rescue Services were all awarded Marmot Partnership Status following their efforts to improve the social circumstances and health of individuals living in their communities.

The award was presented yesterday (9 September) by Sir Michael Marmot at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters in Bootle, where he also launched his new book ‘The Health Gap and the Challenge of an Unequal World’.

For some time, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has worked with partners across the health and social care sector to target vulnerable people and help to prevent fires in their home. In 2014 alone, the service undertook 27,206 home fire safety checks, 82% of which were to people aged over 65, representing the highest percentage in the country.

Their flagship approach to home safety has played a key role in helping to reduce preventable fire deaths and injuries over the past decade and involves combining fire safety checks with signposting residents to appropriate support from other agencies.

Simon Gibbins, Head of Protection for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We are delighted that our hard work with health and social care organisations has been recognised. We are very proud of these partnerships, which are not only making people safer in their own homes but also improving the health and wellbeing of many vulnerable people.

“In addition to fitting free smoke alarms and providing vital safety advice, we view all home safety checks as opportunities to highlight potentially vulnerable people to organisations such as Age UK to make sure that they are supported."

Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority, Councillor John Joyce added:

“This award is a reflection of the hard work we have put into developing effective partnerships with other organisations. We are committed to continuing joint work to improve the safety of our communities and look forward to building upon the success we have had so far.”

A masterclass followed the awards presentation where Sir Michael shared his vast experience with an audience of health, social care and fire and rescue professionals.
Commenting on the work of the three fire and rescue services, Sir Michael said:

“If 200,000 deaths were caused by a pollutant people would be on the streets marching to have it banned.

“The irony is, the actual cause is just as pin-pointable as a toxin. The cause is inequality in the conditions in which we are born, live, work and age. Action must take place at national level to promote a fairer distribution of power, money and resources. But we also know community engagement reduces ill health and saves lives and that’s why the work firefighters are doing is absolutely magnificent.”

The partnership work of all three fire and rescue services has been undertaken in close collaboration with the UCL Institute of Health Equity following evidence that improving the conditions in which people are born, live, work, grow and age can reduce health inequalities. The evidence was laid out in the 2010 British government commissioned review of health inequalities in England, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

ENDS

The Marmot Partnership Status award follows a Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Fire Summit held at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Headquarters in July 2015 to identify how partnership work between organisations across the two counties can help target the most vulnerable people.

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and NHS England met with partner organisations to discuss further ways of working together to reduce risk to vulnerable people in the community, particularly the elderly. Both Fire and Rescue Services in Cheshire and Merseyside are keen to support the national programme of work to assist the health agenda.

Case studies 

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service & Age UK

Case Study 1:

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Age UK jointly fund a Dementia Awareness Advisor.

A referral was received from the Alzheimer’s Society to help a lady with Alzheimer’s to complete an application for Attendance Allowance. She was diagnosed 12 months earlier and was finding it difficult to accept.

The lady lived with her husband in an isolated location with poor transport, making access to local amenities and services difficult. Their accommodation was a privately rented property and had been on the market for three years so alternative housing was needed.

The lady had been falling over in the house due to balance issues. Showering was particularly dangerous as she only had a wash basin to hold on to for support when showering. The Dementia Advisor arranged an Occupational Therapy assessment to see if there were any appropriate aids to help her around the house.

A Home Safety Assessment was also completed. Only one outdated smoke alarm was fitted in the property so the Advisor fitted two new alarms. Advice was also given regarding clutter, which was proving to be a big safety hazard. There was a propane gas cylinder in the garden so Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service arranged for it to be removed.

Following the visit, the Higher Rate Attendance Allowance was awarded so a Council Tax Reduction form was then completed by the Dementia Advisor.

Following the initial visit, the lady’s rented house had been sold and she had received notice to leave the property. This was causing her a lot of anxiety. The Dementia Advisor helped her to complete the necessary paperwork to inform Weaver Vale Housing of the increased urgency of the situation. The Advisor then liaised with the Housing Trust on behalf of the lady and her husband and was able to reassure the couple that that they wouldn’t be evicted without finding suitable alternative accommodation.

The Advisor discussed housing options with the couple who are now considering Sheltered Housing as their safest option for the long term future. They are currently applying for suitable housing and will continue to receive the necessary support until their housing situation is resolved.

CASE STUDY 2

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Age UK jointly fund a Dementia Awareness Advisor. A gentleman was recently referred to the Dementia Awareness Advisor following a routine Home Safety Assessment where Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service personnel had become concerned that he was not looking after himself.

The gentleman lived alone, without local family, and had a very concerned neighbour who he visited several times a day and night, forgetting he had already visited. He often needed guidance to return home, a couple of houses away, as he forgot where he lived. The neighbour was finding the burden of caring for the gentleman very stressful and it was affecting her own health.

A Dementia Advisor arranged a meeting with both the gentleman’s son and the neighbour present. On visiting the advisor noticed that the house was cluttered and not being cleaned. The gentleman was wearing dirty clothing and was very guarded and unreceptive. His language and behaviour were inappropriate and he struggled to follow the conversation. The son had not realised his father’s deterioration and was shocked to discover the extent of his dementia.

The Dementia Advisor worked hard to put the client at ease and eventually he opened up to her, allowing the her to complete a benefit check and an application for Attendance Allowance. She discussed the possibility of arranging a care package to relieve the burden on his neighbour and maintain his safety and wellbeing. The gentleman reluctantly agreed to discuss this further if his Attendance Allowance application was successful.

The gentleman received higher rate Attendance Allowance and was therefore also eligible for a Council Tax reduction. At a subsequent visit he agreed to an urgent care package being put in place to help with medication and meal prompting and cleaning. A hot meal delivery was also arranged for lunch time.

A follow up visit was arranged to monitor progress. The care package was still in place and was proving successful. The client was enjoying the hot meal delivery service, which in turn has improved his overall health. His son has sorted out his finances, putting direct debits in place and reducing his father’s vulnerability to financial abuse. The neighbour still sees the gentleman daily but feels the pressure to care for him has now been removed which has also improved her own overall health.

The Dementia Advisor hopes to encourage the gentleman to attend groups or day care and continues to offer support by monitoring his progress in order to prevent any deterioration of his much improved situation.

Dementia Friends

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service recognises that there is a growing number of people in the area living with diagnosed and undiagnosed forms of dementia. It wants to help support this group of residents as best it can and is offering dementia training to staff.

To help understand the difficulties that people affected with dementia face, the organisation has arranged a number of Dementia Friends sessions for both its front-line firefighters and support staff.

Jenny Maskell, Partnership Co-ordinator for the Service organised the sessions. She said: “I have worked with people living with dementia in the past and I have also had personal experience of supporting a family member with vascular dementia, so when the Service was looking for a Dementia Champion to co-ordinate the sessions, I was only too happy to get involved.”

“The Service delivers home safety assessments to a large proportion of older people each year, so it’s important that staff, whether they are front-line firefighters or office based staff have an understanding of dementia.”

Through the sessions, an increased awareness of the impact that dementia can have on individuals, their family and carers has been gained by staff who will now be able to help support any people that they come into contact with who have dementia in the future.

Dementia Friends has also helped staff to offer support to those outside of the work environment. A great example of this was provided by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Safety Centre Manager, Mark Shone, who recently became a Dementia Friend.

Mark said: “Shortly after becoming a Dementia Friend I had a knock at my front door and there stood an elderly lady who said she was looking for a particular street, as her brother lived there. Being local I knew instantly that street didn’t exist in my area so asked her what her name was and where she lived. She could recall her name, but not her address or how she’d got to my street.

"It was clear she had some kind of dementia. I invited her in and I got her a glass of water, while I phoned the police’s 101 number. They established she lived with her daughter and son-in-law some 10 miles away who were grateful she was safe and came immediately to pick her up. Without my Dementia Friends awareness I doubt I’d have understood why the lady was so immaculately dressed, why she could recall her name and that of her brother and why she knew precisely where she needed to get to (her childhood home)…but at the same time didn’t know how to get there and was unable to tell me where she now lived. I also recalled how people with dementia may not remember the detail of a recent encounter, but would nevertheless retain the feelings and emotions from it. For that reason, I had the confidence to stay calm, friendly and patient with her.”

The Dementia Friends sessions are relatively new to the organisation, however they have generated discussions around how it currently engage with people with dementia and how this might continue and evolve in the future. The sessions have given Cheshire Fire food for thought in terms of how it can continue to engage positively with people living with dementia.

Jenny added: “Some of our staff have registered as Dementia Friends online and this is a great way to reach colleagues who may not be able to get to the sessions, but still wish to have an awareness of dementia. I would urge other organisations to visit the website - Dementia Friends (opens in new window) and find out how they can become a Dementia Friend or visit the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service website

Date published: Tue, 05 Jan 2016 15:39:46 GMT

Last updated: Tuesday 05 January 2016

Related images


Fronm left to right: Sir Michael Marmot. Simon Gibbins (Head of Protection for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service), Cllr John Joyce (Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority)