FIREFIGHTERS in Greater Manchester will be helping keep thousands of elderly people safe this winter after being chosen to lead a national health initiative.
Firefighters from GMFRS have been chosen to lead a national health iniative
Every winter 30,000 people die as a result of health issues linked to cold weather.
Various agencies work hard to prevent unnecessary deaths but Public Health England are hoping to save even more lives through a new partnership with fire and rescue services.
Greater Manchester is one of three services chosen to support the health and social care system by promoting public health and preventative health care when visiting people in their homes.
The service already visits over 60,000 homes each year to fit smoke alarms and provide fire safety advice but now firefighters will also use the opportunity to give advice on falls prevention, cold homes, social isolation and flu inoculations.
They will take action or refer residents onto other health and social care services, including those provided by voluntary sector organisations such as Age UK.
These checks will be known as Safe and Well visits, and will also see firefighters taking action and giving advice on health and crime prevention issues, as well as traditional fire safety measures.
Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor David Acton, said: “Over the last 10 years we have seen accidental fires fall dramatically as a result of the early intervention our staff have carried out by providing fire safety advice and fitting smoke alarms.
“If we have the opportunity to make a bigger impact while we visit homes, by looking for obvious ways to keep people safe during winter or safe from crime, then why wouldn’t we?
“We know we have unique access to a large number of homes, many are the same people who are at high risk of winter-related illnesses, so it makes sense to collaborate with PHE to improve the lives of residents in Greater Manchester.
“We want to use our skills and expertise to help save lives in other ways by working even more collaboratively with our health and social care partners.”
A spokesman from PHE said: “Public Health England is working with the Local Government Association, NHS England, Age UK and the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to develop a shared view of how fire and rescue services can use their capacity to support the health and social care system including promoting public health and preventative health care.
“Fire and rescue services have seen success in reducing demand for their services by taking a preventative approach through home safety visits (or more recently, safe and well visits).
“Those factors that predispose someone to being at risk from fire also predispose someone to be at risk of having or developing long term and other conditions that create demand for other organisations. By focusing on changing behaviours relating to these factors fire and rescue services could translate their prevention successes into other areas.”