A collaboration between firefighters and NHS staff to better support people with dementia during emergencies has landed a prestigious award.
In partnership with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service rolled out training to frontline firefighters in Portsmouth to increase their understanding of mental illnesses.
The project was recognised with the Director’s Choice award at the Wessex Dementia Timeline Awards, held at Southampton FC’s St Mary’s Stadium, hosted by the Wessex Dementia Collaborative. The award was presented by Professor Alistair Burns, the government clinical lead on dementia.
The initiative was brought into focus in March this year when a fire at Summerlands, a care home in Southsea specialising in dementia and other mental illnesses, saw firefighters put their new skills to the test.
Assistant Chief Officer Steve Foye, the Service’s Director for Community Safety, said: “The residents of the care home received the best possible care from our firefighters that night, making what was potentially a highly stressful event more manageable.
“For example, a firefighter, who led one resident out of the building during the fire, later assisted their return to the building, once it was safe to do so. Keeping this level of continuity for that resident was important and the skills and knowledge the firefighter had gathered through this project was what made that difference”
He added: “We are so proud to receive this award in recognition of our work to support those living with dementia. We will continue to support the most vulnerable members of our community and ensure that we protect them not only from fires but also help to identify any other potential dangers or threats to their health.
The Dementia and Fire Safety Collaborative Working project was chosen for the Director’s Award from more than 120 that were put forward for the awards. It also won the Post Diagnosis category at the ceremony.
Firefighters Lee Campbell and Kevin ‘Jasper’ Taylor attended the ceremony to accept the award on behalf of the Service. They have worked with Ian Douglas, the Integrated Senior Clinical Lead from Southern Health, to train the Portsmouth firefighters.
Steve Foye said “We are particularly grateful for the support of colleagues in Southern Health who were key to delivering this training and is a great example of work colleagues in fire and health can do together to help make our communities safer.”
The training is now set to be rolled out to all Hampshire firefighters.