Take a tip from John Lewis’s new festive advert: Check on older people this Christmas #FireAsAHealthAsset

This year’s Christmas advert from John Lewis has a focus on older people and loneliness at Christmas.

The Guardian featured an article about the new festive advert which will also help to raise money for Age UK. According to the article, the advert features the strapline ‘Show someone they’re loved this Christmas”, similar to Age UK’s own campaign: “No one should have no one at Christmas”. John Lewis will also encourage staff and customers to join up with their local branch of Age UK to care for older people who may be alone.

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is working closely with the NHS to identify vulnerable people aged 65 and over. One of the aspects firefighters are looking for when carrying out home safety checks is isolation and loneliness. As well as fitting handrails, or fixing hazards, firefighters will be looking for issues such as loneliness and fuel poverty. This could lead to people being signposted to services and organisations which could offer help and support, and ensuring the relevant organisations are informed about people who may be struggling.

Only last month, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt praised the work of fire and rescue services and the partnership work with NHS, helping to reduce pressure on services in the future. It was apparent that the approach CFOA and the NHS were taking was key to  reducing pressure on health services in the future.

CFOA president Paul Hancock also raised with the Health Minister that the safe and well checks carried out by fire services can make a big difference, as the fire service has access to more than 670,000 homes a year.

In October NHS England, Public Health England, the Fire and Rescue Service, Age UK and the Local Government Association signed a new ‘Consensus’ promising to work together. (NHS statement). It set out how the organisations will work together to encourage local action and minimise service demand, while improving the quality of life of people with long term conditions.

It means fire services across the country will aim to carry out more ‘Safe and Well’ checks in people’s homes when they visit. By extending the 670,000 home safety checks carried out each year into a ‘Safe and Well visits’, this will help vulnerable people and those with complex conditions.

When the consensus statement was launched, Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive officer said: “By preventing issues such as falls and broken hips we are also reducing A&E visits, isolation and depression and by spotting social issues earlier we can help people to stay in their own homes for longer.”

In Greater Manchester for example, firefighters form a Community Risk Intervention Team (CRIT) to provide a multifaceted response to keep people safe in their homes, reducing demand on ambulance services and facilitate early discharge from hospital.

Paul Hancock, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said: “The Safe and Well checks will help to identify issues at an early stage, which could reduce the likelihood of older people being admitted to hospital by focusing on prevention measures. Firefighters carrying out these checks already have a high level of trust from the people they are visiting and will be able to give help and advice on a wide range of issues, while helping to help make our older residents safer.”

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