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Firefighter role to be combined with social care

Firefighter role to be combined with social care

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 4:57pm 24th January 2020.

A new job combining the skills of an on-call firefighter with a social care role could be developed in Cornwall.

The aim is to reduce loneliness and social isolation in our communities and better supporting people who self-neglect.

The proposal is part of a report that was presented at Cornwall Council's Health and Wellbeing Board. 

It describes how many of the tasks that firefighters and social workers do crossover, such as fire safety in the home, people falling and injuring themselves, the risk from poor housing structures and lack of repairs, and the effect this has on a person's well-being.

Social workers in Cornwall have been working hard to tackle some of the challenges involved in helping someone who self-neglects. 

It is estimated that 2750 people in Cornwall are at risk of self-neglect behaviour which can often result in harm coming to them, for example, through hoarding or by not managing the upkeep of their home.

"Often, someone who self-neglects will be reluctant to accept help but it is hoped this new role will start to overcome this. Firefighters are traditionally people that most people trust and will allow into their homes to check things such as smoke alarms and trip hazards. 

"They are then easily placed to support the individual by looking at the whole home environment and what improvements can be made to improve their health, safety and wellbeing."

"Research studies demonstrate that self-neglecting older adults reduce their participation in social activities and have a reduced informal social support network, again increasing their risk of coming to harm."

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for adults, Rob Rotchell 

The Care Act 2014 identifies self-neglect as a safeguarding responsibility and defines it as covering a wide range of behaviours including neglecting to care for personal hygiene; health or surroundings and hoarding. 

It isn't always easy to determine a root cause but it can be a result of a person's brain injury, dementia or other mental disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder or hoarding disorder; physical illness which has an effect on abilities, energy levels, attention span, organisational skills or motivation; reduced motivation as a side effect of medication, addictions or a traumatic life change.

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