Norfolk Swift Response Service provides 24 hour help, support and reassurance for urgent, unplanned situations that happen in the home, but do not need the attention of emergency services. The main functions of the service are personal care, welfare checks, domestic emergencies, shopping, on-going care needs and lifting people who have fallen, but are stating they are uninjured.The free service is offered by Norfolk County Council to the 880,000 residents in the region. Over the last ten years, the population aged over 65 has increased by 23% in Norfolk, with many in this demographic living in the more rural areas of the county. Funded by the CCG, Swift employs 60 in their response team who respond to over 14,000 calls a year.
Over 30% of the calls Swift respond to are to help people who have fallen. Calls for assistance come from a mix of sources but mostly from friends and neighbours of the fallen person or from Alarm Call Services. From the time of the call, the Swift team endeavours to get there within an hour. Located in five locations across Norfolk; Kings Lynn, Dereham, North Walsham, Great Yarmouth and Norwich, the response teams carry a Mangar Camel and ELK to assist their carers lifting fallen residents.
Making sure Norfolk residents feel safe is a priority for Swift. Team members always show identity cards when arriving at someone’s home and are dressed in uniform.
Heather Rimmer, the Norfolk Swift Co-ordinator, has worked with the team for more than 6 years and has seen the service grow and evolve since joining.
Heather says, “Our priority is to help someone who has fallen, but is uninjured, to stay in their home. In many cases we will ask the Norfolk Falls Teams to visit the resident and assess the situation to see if any interventions are required to prevent a further fall.
“Our team use a Mangar Lifting Cushion to raise the fallen person from the floor. The cushions provide a safe lift for the resident but also help prevent musculoskeletal injury to our staff. Because of the amount of falls we attend, the lifting cushions are used every day and have been for nearly 10 years. They are a reliable piece of equipment that we wouldn’t be without. “
The team also carry additional charging cradles and batteries to ensure the Airflo Plus, which is used to inflate the lifting cushions, always has enough power. Equipment is maintained and serviced by Mangar’s in-house service team. An engineer visits each Swift office once a year to ensure the lifting cushions are in good working condition.
The Swift Response Team members have had tailored first aid and manual handling training but are only called upon if it believed emergency services are not required. This allows the County’s paramedics to answer priority emergency calls and means an uninjured fallen Norfolk resident gets a visit from the Swift Response team sooner than they would if they had to wait for an ambulance.
Heather says, “It is really important to lift someone from the floor who has fallen as quickly as possible, even if they are uninjured. Long lies on the floor for the elderly are associated with higher mortality rates. It may also cause the fallen person to develop a fear of falling again, which reduces their future activity rate and can have a detrimental effect on their health. ”
The UK government projects that the over 65s will nearly double from 10 million to more than 19 million by 2050. HSE reports that 30% of this demographic will fall at least once a year, rising to 50% in the over 80s. The Norfolk Swift Team has recognised the need to manage the challenges of falls within an ageing population and implemented a pioneering project, which addresses the needs efficiently and effectively.