This all started when our son was born and my wife asked about what she should do in an emergency when I was on night shift. She had been aware of what to do in the past, but now having the baby she was more aware and worried of the risk.
The idea was simply to offer the same advice I gave to my wife to all new parents. I contacted the local Health Visitors team and together we worked on a way to provide the service. It took a bit of time to get things in place and create documents we could use, but it has proven extremely worthwhile.
The local success is now leading to the initiative being expanded to the rest of the Inverclyde region and we are in the process of bringing Renfrewshire on board, with an aim to bring in East Renfrewshire also.
As a firefighter in the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, I am here to help people who are in trouble but also to do something to prevent them ever getting into trouble. The SFRS’s number one core value is safety. We work towards a safer Scotland with communities and in partnership with public, private and third sectors. If we all take steps to safeguard our own health, safety and wellbeing, a positive safety culture will flourish. And, by engaging with each other, our stakeholders, partners and our communities, we will be better equipped to work together to create a safer Scotland.
Personally, I am pleased that something born out of a discussion at home between my wife and I is now helping protect so many others in a similar position.
Watch Commander Stephen Anderson, Port Glasgow Community Fire Station
At the beginning of this year the health visiting office received a phone call from Watch Commander Stephen Anderson. He had an idea and was eager to set up a meeting to discuss it. Stephen attended the health centre to discuss how the birth of his child lead to many questions from his wife and friends around general home and fire safety. It got Stephen thinking about how we provide this service to families in the community.
As a health visitor we communicate many available services to our families and fire safety is one of them. We include the fire safety visit leaflet in our new baby packs however it was the responsibility of the parent to call to set this up independently. It got us thinking… Why don’t we make this easier for parents and carry out a direct referral between health visitor and the fire service. Having a new baby for families is a very busy time with lots of new information to take in, therefore if we can provide a simple process this would really benefit families in our area. The process was agreed, the health visitor would offer the service to parents and if they agree, the referral form is sent directly to Port Glasgow fire service who make contact to arrange an appointment.
Since starting the pilot in the Port Glasgow area we have had an 87% uptake of home fire safety visits based on current birth rate statistics in the pilot area. There has also been recognition of the project from local MSP Stuart McMillan who invited Community Safety Minister Ash Denham to Port Glasgow to discuss future plans of offering the service to the rest of Inverclyde.
As a health visitor we strive to work in line with GIRFEC principles (Getting it Right for every Child) and the fire safety pilot is an example of how we fulfil these principles. Fire can be devastating. Discussing home safety is a priority for our service in order to support early prevention and in tackling early needs we can help avoid bigger problems in the future.
Ashley Keogh, Health Visitor, Port Glasgow
As part of writing up this blog, our practice example has been updated by Watch Commander Stephen Anderson to reflect progress that has been made in recent months.