Dorset Fire and Rescue Service - case study

older person's hands

28 / 01 / 2016

IIn 2008 in Dorset, 12 people died due to avoidable fires in their own homes – an unprecedented figure. The average age of those who lost their lives was 65, and all had previously been identified as vulnerable. The problem was that the fire service had not been made aware of this vulnerability.

It was a situation local partners were committed to changing. At a conference bringing together more than 60 organisations, representatives discussed how such communication problems could be avoided in future. The ultimate result was the Safe and Independent Living Scheme (SAIL), founded in 2010.

The scheme operates across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole, and makes it easier for any organisation to alert others to the care needs of people over 50. Any of the 70 SAIL organisations visiting a person at home can fill in a standard referral form. The form shows which services, support or information the individual would like to access – this can include anything from debt advice, to lunch clubs, to a smoke detector fitting. When complete, it is passed on to the hub organisation for the scheme, Age UK Dorchester. The details are entered onto a central database, and then all relevant referrals made.

The success of the Dorset model is such that SAIL has now been adopted by other fire and rescue services and local authorities. It is seen as a simple way to improve communication and to broaden the reach of organisations ready and willing to help people stay safe and well.

The scheme is currently funded by individual contributions from each of the partner organisations. As the number of referrals grows, more staffing costs are expected. There is firm belief in the value of the scheme, however: there is now pilot work to explore how it could support older people who frequently attend their GP practice.

For more information:

Linzi Holt, Head of Prevention, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service

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