The development of a role emerging placement between health and fire services
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The focus of the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) Persons at Risk team has traditionally approached fire prevention and safety through eliminating risk. Within the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Mental Health Services for Older People directorate (MHSOP) our approach towards fire risk has been one of promoting independence and wellbeing through a risk enablement model (DoH 2010). In 2012 we identified that by developing links between NFRS and MHSOP and increasing our opportunities for joint working we would be able to have better client outcomes. The initial months of our joint working focussed on educating each other about roles, perspectives and clinical expertise. Teaching sessions were offered by therapists on mental health, mental capacity and communication skills. A natural extension of this work was to facilitate a joint placement between NFRS and MHSOP. This offered the opportunity to influence the fire service through contributing to fire prevention assessments and introducing a risk enabling approach. The occupational therapy students encouraged fire personnel to not only consider the client's physical environment but to place the individual at the centre of this environment. Through working with the students the fire service staff were able to consider how an individual interacts with their environment, engages in chosen activities and how this relates to fire risk. This had a positive impact on the service offered to clients and in further enhancing the relationships between the two organisations. The placement offered the students the opportunity to gain a wider perspective and understanding about the impact of fire and enhance their clinical skills, particularly their understanding of our unique contribution and ability to communicate this. Occupational Therapists are well placed to work beyond the usual boundaries and develop new ways of working as demonstrated in this role emerging placement.