A new two year project in Southwark and Lambeth is investigating the feasibility of integrating falls and functional ability assessments into the London Fire Brigade’s routine Home Fire Safety Visits.
Researchers from the Institute of Gerontology of King’s College London and NHS Falls Clinics will work with the Brigade to study ways to increase fire safety and ‘falls awareness’ among older people in both boroughs.
A cross section of residents aged 60 years and over living who book a Home Fire Safety Visit will receive an integrated assessment.
Appointments will combine a visit from local firefighters with a falls and functional ability assessment carried out by researchers from King’s College. Those at risk of falling would then be referred to one of the four Falls Clinics in the borough.
The partnership will seek to further reduce the risk of fire in the home by giving all patients aged over 60 attending NHS Falls Clinics in Southwark and Lambeth a fire safety booklet. This will invite them to book a Home Fire Safety Visit with London Fire Brigade.
Andy Snazell, London Fire Brigade Borough Commander for Southwark welcomed the research. “To continue to reduce the number of fires that occur and the tragic consequences they can bring, London Fire Brigade is increasingly focusing its fire safety resources where they reach those most at risk. This project will help us increase fire safety awareness among some of Southwark and Lambeth’s most vulnerable residents.”
Overseeing the project is Dr Karen Lowton from the Department of Gerontology at King’s. She added: “Older adults are at increased risk of both falling and experiencing an accidental fire at home. There are common factors that increase both risks of falling and fire and include advanced age, mobility problems, cognitive decline, and deprivation. Consequences of both of these risks are considerable.”
Funding for the project is coming from the Dunhill Medical Trust who will provide £118,000 towards the research.