Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to support vulnerable people across the district who are at an increased risk of falling.

The Trust has embarked on an 18 month project to train all firefighters across Bradford and Airedale to identify people aged over 65 who are at risk of falling as part of their routine Safe and Well Checks, to increase fire safety.

The training will give firefighters the knowledge to identify people who may be at risk of a fall and offer advice to people in their homes to prevent falls from happening such as moving furniture and rugs which could cause a fall. Those people who are at risk of a fall are then referred by the firefighters to the Care Trust’s district nursing team to receive the help and support they need.

Rachel Morris, Falls Prevention Nurse at the Trust who is delivering the training, said: “Over 25,000 people each year in the Bradford district have at least one fall. Out of this number 578 are admitted to hospital as a result of a hip fracture and 2,600 attend hospital as a result of a fracture.

Leon Dentico, Neil Rhodes from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Jo Corbett, Rachel Morris, Jacqueline Critchlow, District Nurse from Bradford District Care Foundation Trust

“By working together with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service we are now able to identify vulnerable people which we might not be aware of and offer help and support to prevent falls which could result in a serious injury or hospital stay.”

The project is based on a successful six month pilot in Keighley run by the Care Trust with the Fire Service which saw 80 people undertake a falls screening assessment to identify people at risk of a fall, of those 46 referrals were made to the Trust’s District Nursing team.

One of those referrals was for Jean*, aged 84, who was not known to Trust services before the Safe and Well Check. The district nurse visited Jean and found she had an undiagnosed condition called postural hypotension. This means that if *Jean stood up too quickly her blood pressure would drop and result in her becoming dizzy or lightheaded and potentially fall. Jean* received medication to support her condition and balance and exercise classes.

Jo Corbett, Team Leader for Silsden District Nursing Team at the Care Trust, said: “When we receive a referral we visit people in their homes to look in depth at any factors that have or could cause a fall such as medication people are taking, high or low blood pressure, any infections a person may have that could cause them to lose balance and also potential hazards such as furniture and wires which need moving. We can also suggest further support for people such as eye tests and physiotherapy.”

Chris Kirby, the Area Manager for Fire Safety for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When firefighters visit people in their homes for Safe and Well checks across Bradford and Airedale to discuss fire safety they also will give basic advice on falls and see which people could be at risk of a fall. We can identify issues at an early stage which can reduce the likelihood of people being admitted to hospital by putting preventative measures in place.”