MANY may think firefighters in Warwickshire just rescue people from their homes during emergencies – but they also help some of the most vulnerable to return home.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service have been helping hospital patients return home safely with their innovative Hospital to Home service for the past three years.
The programme’s aim is to support elderly and vulnerable patients who have been treated at hospital and are well enough to return home to get back to where they feel safe and can be supported to live independently.
This in turn has helped to reduce the number of patients who have previously had to be admitted to hospital because they had no immediate friends or family to help them get home.
Since its launch in 2018, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue have taken home 3,900 patients through the Hospital to Home programme.
Commissioned through Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and Public Health, the service offers support to hospitals in discharging patients from hospitals and helps to reduce the increase in pressures on hospital beds and services during the winter.
The scheme runs in three Warwickshire hospitals – Warwick Hospital, George Elliot in Nuneaton and UHCW in Coventry.
Once home, the resident is settled in by the Hospital to Home team, which could involve making them a cup of tea, putting the heating on or getting a food shop in.
The team carry out Safe and Well checks in the resident’s home. The check involves looking for potential hazards that can cause slips, trips and falls, carrying out a check for possible fire hazards, inspecting electrical sockets so they are safe to use, checking smoke alarms are working or installing new smoke alarms where there are none.
Enie Hickinson, who recently used the service, said: “Not only did they bring me home and put my bags in and make sure I was secure at home, they also went round the house to make sure it was secure too.
“The gentleman checked all the plugs in the house and made sure we’d got the correct ones. Being in the house 30 years and being elderly, sometimes you mend and make do – everything was double checked for us so that was nice.
“When you go home from hospital in the ambulance it’s quite conspicuous, outside and people stare, but going home in the little fire service vehicle, nobody noticed me getting out. I found that very nice.
“I’ve had the Hospital to Home service twice now and I think it’s a really good service. It’s quick, it’s efficient; from the nurse telling me I was going home, I was there within an hour. It was really good, quick service and kind service. I was home within a matter of minutes!
“I’d had an awful lot to bring home because I’d been in hospital for quite a long time, I’d got four or five bags. The gentleman made sure I’d got all the bags and the lady made sure I was safely in the wheelchair. I didn’t have to worry about anything, it was all picked up.”
Darren Randle-Morris, Community Fire Safety Officer at Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service said the aim of the service was to make Warwickshire a safe and healthier place to live.
“By us carrying out these safe and well checks and taking these people home, it helps that person have that independence and that we’re able to support them; there are people out there to help them and they’re not on their own.
“It’s a really good way for the fire service to be meeting these members of the community and ensuring they’re safe.”
WCC fire spokesman Coun Andy Crump said he was “incredibly proud” of teh service and the team that made it possible.
“This service is a great example of the work our crews carry out to keep the public safe. To have helped almost 4,000 people through this scheme is a tremendous achievement.
“I’m pleased to see the positive impact Hospital to Home has had on the lives of vulnerable residents in Warwickshire and the NHS in the three years it’s been running.”
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue for more information.