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Fire Services helping older people to Age Safely

29 September 2014

The Chief Fire Officers Association’s (CFOA) Ageing Safely Week takes place from 29 September to 5 October 2014.

Ageing Safely Week, which is taking place for the first time this year, has been scheduled to run for a week around UK Older People’s Day on 1 October. Fire and rescue services across the country will be holding a range of events and activities, engaging with older people in their communities, and showcasing the work they do on a daily basis to help keep older people safe.

Statistics show that the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages. And with an ageing population – 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035 – activities to help older people prevent fires and keep themselves safe are likely to form a growing part of fire services’ work over the coming years.

Throughout the UK, fire and rescue services identify those who are most at risk in their community, and undertake targeted prevention and protection activities to help them stay safe. UK fire services carried out 274,000 home fire safety checks in households with a person over 65 years in 2012-13. But this is just a small part of the work that the fire service does with older people, including working with partners to share resources and expertise and deliver integrated services to the local community, allowing people to remain safe and independent in their own homes for longer.

CFOA President Peter Dartford said: “CFOA Ageing Safely Week gives fire and rescue services the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to protecting older people, particularly those who are vulnerable and may be most at risk.

“Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, at the 2014 LGA conference, recognised the huge part firefighters could play in delivering health and wellbeing interventions in people’s homes. During the week services will be showcasing the work they do with older people, to keep them safe and healthy, raising awareness of the services available, and building and developing existing and new partnerships with organisations with similar goals.”

Services will also be using the week to provide information leaflets about The Silver Line, the charity set up by Esther Rantzen CBE, which runs a free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people – and like the fire service, is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Esther Rantzen said: “Please make time to suggest to any older person who may be lonely but is probably reluctant to admit it, why not call The Silver Line? 0800 4 70 80 90. As one caller told us, ‘when I get off the phone I feel like I belong to the human race.’”