Staffordshire – Fire services working in partnership using telecare
“Assistive technology has a significant role to play in realising the vision of making Staffordshire the safest place to be. We are the only Fire and Rescue Service in England to take this proactive approach, using technology to support independence, and this is evidence of our innovative and holistic approach to delivering the highest standard of service to our communities.”
Chris Dowding, Community Risk Reduction Specialist and Assistive Technology Lead, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is one of the best performing yet lowest costing fire and rescue services in the country. Although its focus continues to be on fire safety, the Service also works in the wider areas of community health and wellbeing, recognising that the needs it identifies as a fire service are often the same issues that public sector partners are looking to address.
How has using assistive technology such as telecare helped SFRS to work collaboratively with partners to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in the county?
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to the strategy that prevention is more effective and cheaper than cure, and as a result has a programme in place to identify priority groups for fire safety such as older people and those with long-term health or care needs.
In April 2011 a Community Risk Reduction Specialist and Assistive Technology Lead was appointed to work in conjunction with local health and social services teams in South Staffordshire to advise on fire safety and proactively assess risks in people’s homes. The lead assesses for and installs stand alone and monitored assistive technology (telecare) systems for people who are most at risk from fire in the area.
As well as installing smoke and heat detectors to guard against the risk of fire, other sensors such as fall detectors and bed occupancy sensors can be chosen according to the needs of the user. In many cases the system will be linked to a 24-hour monitoring centre at Stafford and Rural Homes who will respond if one of the sensors detects a problem and raises an alert. They may contact a relative or neighbour or send the emergency services depending up on the nature of the alert. Where there is a carer living at home the sensors can be linked to a pager system for use inside the home. The systems are also being used in grouped living environments to support professional carers.
- The only partnership of its kind in the UK (Fire Service and social services)
- Supports integrated working between public services
- Increased independence and quality of life for service users
- Makes Staffordshire a safer place to live
- Cost effective solution
The delivery of telecare support by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, working with its partners, is the only scheme of its kind in the UK. It helps SFRS deliver on some of its eight core objectives, including reducing deaths by fire and making Staffordshire a safer place to live. The success of the service has gained interest from other service around the UK, who visit the Bilbrook AT home demonstration centre to find out more about the benefits of telecare and multidisciplinary team working from SFRS.
The use of telecare to help support Emma, John, Stephen and Andrew has enabled them to be much more independent. When in residential care they were almost always closely accompanied by a member of staff in order to safeguard them. Using technology such as the property exit sensors means staff can offer support and ensure safety but still allow freedom. This new model of care is also a more cost-effective solution.
Although Emma, John, Stephen and Andrew are largely nonverbal, changes in their behaviours indicate that they are much calmer and happier in their new environment. They have begun to undertake more tasks independently such as dressing themselves and cooking their own meals with help. They also feel confident to undertake individual activities which interest them such as gardening and walking into the local village accompanied by staff, improving their quality of life.
Our Connected Care solutions have been designed to support a wide range of people, including older people, people at risk of falls, people with limited mobility, people with learning disabilities, people with dementia and people with conditions such as epilepsy