People with issues around hoarding are being helped to stay safe in their homes thanks to support and advice from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).
The service runs a scheme called Safe and Well, which offers people aged 65 and over free visits to help improve their safety and wellbeing by reducing risks around the home, including from fire and falls.
As part of the scheme, members of the Prevention Team also offer advice and support to people living with clutter or hoarding, building a rapport to help them start to make their home a safer environment. They can also put residents in touch with partner agencies to help improve their health and quality of life.
Lisa Bryan, manager of the NFRS Home Safety Team, said: “Helping those living in hoarded or cluttered properties to stay safe and well is a challenge that is best met when organisations work together to support people.
“While we aren’t experts in addressing the issues which can lead to hoarding, our teams are able to offer practical support from a trusted, non-judgemental position, helping people take the first small steps to living in a safer environment that will also help improve their wellbeing and health.”
Approximately one-fifth of Safe and Well referrals dealt with by NFRS relate to hoarding or clutter, and come from partner agencies, families, carers and individuals themselves.
Jo Gouldson, NFRS Community Safety Officer, said: “Hoarding and clutter can develop for lots of different reasons, such as the death of a loved one, downsizing your home, or not coping with household tasks. Sorting and clearing may feel daunting to someone so we promote small steps such as clearing or tidying one doorway or hallway so that an escape route can be used if needed, or clearing space around cooking and heating appliances to reduce the chance of a fire starting.”
An all-round approach to safety
To help promote the way that fire and rescue services work in their communities, NFRS has worked with ITN Productions and the Royal Society for Public Health to produce a four-minute video about the Safe and Well scheme.
Introduced by national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, the film is part of sponsored editorial content within a programme called The Public's Health Across The Life Course, and is aimed at partners and professionals within other organisations related to health and social care, housing and accident prevention.
Lisa said: “Taking part in this project was an ideal way to demonstrate the way NFRS works in partnership with the wider public health workforce to improve not just the safety of people in our communities but their wellbeing as well.
“The holistic approach of our home visits allows us to give advice on fire safety, and direct people towards some of the excellent help and support that exists on other issues that affect safety and wellbeing such as falls prevention, avoiding fraud and scams and staying safe and warm in winter.”
About Safe and Well
Developed nationally to address the link between fire and health and social care factors, Safe and Well is being piloted in Northamptonshire as an expansion of NFRS’s existing home safety visit scheme, which sees firefighters visit households to provide fire safety advice.
Launched last year and primarily aimed at older people, especially those who live alone, the pilot scheme was expanded in September and will be further rolled out this year. As well as sharing fire prevention advice, the visits also allow NFRS to provide advice from a range of partners on topics including avoiding doorstep crime and how to access stop smoking services.
Further information about safety in the home can be found on the NFRS website, along with details of how to make a Safe and Well referral for people aged 65 plus. Visit the Home Fire Safety Check page or call 01604 797000. Help and advice is also available via Help for Hoarders.