Promising practice details


C4EO theme: Families, Parents and Carers

Safe@Home Scheme, Luton

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Early Years
  • Families, Parents and Carers
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

    Basic details

    Organisation submitting example

    Luton Borough Council/Bedfordshire Pre-School Learning Alliance

    Local authority/local area:

    Luton Borough Council


    The context and rationale

    Background details to your example

    The scheme originated through a national programme developed by the former Department for Children, Schools and Families and RoSPA (Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents). The Luton Scheme registered with the National Safe At Home programme in September 2009, and later commenced in January 2010.

    The Scheme Project Co-ordinator was recruited in January 2010 by Bedfordshire Preschool Learning Alliance, specifically to manage and co-ordinate the scheme in Luton.

    A key driver to the programme was to support the Children’s Centre key performance indicator of reducing the rate of emergency hospital admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injuries to children and young people.

    The scheme identifies vulnerable families and enables those on low income or in receipt of benefits to be provided with a child home safety risk assessment, advice and support and the installation of equipment including child safety gates, fireguards, window restrictors, bathmats, cupboard locks, corner cushions, blind cord winders. All equipment is professionally fitted by an approved installer and includes a Fire Safety check including smoke alarms, electrical safety, carbon monoxide detectors & fire escape advice.


    The practice

    Further details about the practice

    Every year approximately one million children are taken to hospital due to an accident that has occurred in the home. Nearly half of these are children between the ages of 0 and 4 years old.
    The most common accidents to children are:
    Falls – causing the most accidents in the home
    Fire – 72% of burn and scald injuries are to the under 5’s, and house fires are most common cause of death
    Scalds – Hot drinks, kettles and pans must be kept away from a child
    Choking – Children can swallow small items such as marbles, coins, and suffocate with pillows, blankets, cords and more recently observed, nappy sacks/bags
    Poisoning – 75% of accidents involving household chemicals happen to the under 5’s
    Drowning – Children can drown in less than 5cm of water.

    The over arching aim of the Safe@Home Scheme is to provide professional advice, guidance and support to help all parents/full time carers make their home safer thus reducing the risk of accident and prevent accidental injury. In addition those families who are high risk or low income (vulnerable/disadvantaged) can access free home safety equipment and fitting of this equipment as defined in qualifying criteria.

    The Project Co-ordinator has recruited 41 trained assessors to carry out home safety referrals/checks from a variety of partnerships across the area, including Health Visitors, Children’s Centres Support Staff, Outreach Workers, Social Care, Midwives, Luton Borough Council and Luton and Bedfordshire Fire Service.

    The safety equipment is fitted by a trained fitter/installer from the local Fire Service who takes the opportunity to offer home fire safety checks at the same time.

    The scheme co-ordinator delivers home safety sessions to Children’s Centre staff and partner agencies, as well as home safety education and advice sessions to parents/carers through a mix of group and one-to-one sessions across Luton, goody bags are distributed containing relevant booklets, leaflets and safety resources.
    Home Safety sessions cover the following areas:

    Parent session: 1/1 in the parent’s home
    • Discussion around the child’s individual home safety and full risk assessment of the home
    • How to reduce risk of injury by eliminating hazards and being one step ahead of the child’s age and stage of development
    • How small changes can make a big difference in reducing risk e.g. running the cold water first in the bath to avoid accidental scalds
    • Recommended safety equipment and how to use effectively and referral for installation of equipment if family are low income or high risk
    • Signposting to other agencies e.g. Home Improvement Agency, Fire service, etc.

    Parent education session in Children’s Centre
    • The most common accidents e.g. Falls, Burns, Scalds, Poisoning, Cuts, Choking /Suffocation and Drowning
    • Why and how accidents occur e.g. child left unsupervised, no safety equipment in place, lack of awareness
    • Most common room in the home for accidents to occur and the importance of ensuring safety
    • Reducing the risk of accidental injury in the home and whilst out and about
    • Statistics of common injuries
    • DVD of home safety awareness
    • Signposting to other partners e.g. Hazard House, First Aid training
    • Promotional Stand at Children’s Centre, Health and Borough wide events.

    Parent education session at Hazard House at the Fire station
    • Child Safety Awareness as above
    • Fire Safety Awareness
    • Fire Safety DVD of fire starting, how quickly it spreads and evacuation of family
    • Tour of Hazard House with fire and home safety hazards, identifying and discussion
    • Electrical & Gas safety
    • Importance of Fire Plans and evacuation of family from home
    • Discussion on all of the above with opportunity for questions and answers
    • Access to Home Fire Safety Check including smoke detectors, Carbon Monoxide alarms.

    Antenatal Group – Bump 2 Babe session
    • Importance of Home Safety from Birth onwards
    • Safety in transporting baby home e.g. Car Seat safety advice
    • Common first accidents e.g. Falls and Scalds
    • Awareness of risks when leaving baby on high surface e.g. bed, sofa, changing table
    • Awareness of hot liquid scalds e.g. holding baby and drinking hot drinks.

    Training for Professionals working with families
    • The Safe@Home Scheme – who we are, how to refer in, how to become an assessor
    • The Child Accident Picture including data and statistics provided by RoSPA
    • Why and how accidents occur
    • Prevention and reducing risks
    • Carrying out home assessment
    • Identifying and working with vulnerable families
    • Tour of Hazard House and Fire Safety Awareness
    • The importance of Early intervention – prevention is better than cure
    • The cost of accidental injuries in terms of NHS costs and emotional pain and suffering
    • Improving outcomes for children by keeping them safe from harm.

    All families are encouraged to attend an education session and access free home safety visit – in doing so they also receive a complimentary gift bag containing useful safety information and a range of safety products e.g. Baby changing mat with printed design message ‘to never leave child unattended on a high surface’, a tea towel with a message ‘ hot drinks can cause a serious scald for up to 20 minutes’ and a handy pocket First Aid Guide.


    Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

    Evidencing your practice has made a difference to children, young people and families

    Evidence from Accidents and Emergency (A&E) suggests that admissions due to unintentional injury have reduced. According to research carried out by RoSPA the number of children who attend A&E with an accidental injury have an increased risk of representing at A&E in the future. The data collated from Safe@Home shows that only 4 children who have accessed the scheme have represented at A&E with an injury. This suggests that educational awareness combined with practical support has had an impact on reducing number of admissions.

    In the first full year of the scheme 454 referral checks were made, which resulted in 381 installations of equipment. Over 500 people received education safety sessions at Children’s Centres, 454 families received one-to-one safety training and over 600 accessed information and guidance from various events within the Borough e.g. during the Keeping Baby Safe Campaign.

    Since the scheme has been developed, a number of key benefits have resulted, such as the recently developed visits to “Hazard House” at Luton Fire Station, the tour is available for parents/carers of Luton and includes a real home setting including potential hazards and dangers, it also incorporates the following:

    Can you identify danger in the home?
    Adult only presentation on Home Safety and Tour of Hazard House (approx. 1hr.)

    Fire Safety film and practical activities to raise awareness of home and fire safety.

    What to do if you have a Fire – test your knowledge & make a plan!

    How safe is your Child?
    What are the most common accidents that children have in the home?

    Where and how accidents happen.

    How can you protect your child?

    Identify the risks in your home!

    FREE Child Safety Bag
    Provided to all families who book a Home Safety Visit following child safety session.

    Contents includes; Child Safety resources and a selection of home safety booklets and leaflets.

    Expectant parents across Luton now have the opportunity to attend a 5 week Bump 2 Babe Course (Ante-natal Parenting Support), which now incorporates a Safe@Home information session from either the scheme project co-ordinator, Children’s Centre Support staff or a Children’s Centre Midwife, referrals onto the scheme are also generated from this course, and the awareness of home safety is raised at the Antenatal phase.

    One of the key target groups which Children’s Centres in Luton support are young parents, and some funding was secured to create a number of Young Parent Goody Bags. These bags included home safety advice literature, the Safe@Home scheme leaflet, baby changing mat and tea towel with key safety messages, door stopper, and a heat scald mug. This provided a subtle way of sharing the main messages and in raising awareness of safety in the home with a potential vulnerable group.

    Accessing home visits in some areas due to cultural trends have been identified and overcome through recruitment of designated assessors and key partnership working. The number of home visits in these high risk areas has significantly increased during the past year thus reducing the risk of home accidents and raising awareness.

    As the trained assessors gain access to the home of families, a number of safeguarding concerns have been picked up and investigated, and Children’s Centre staff in particular are able access the homes of some of their most vulnerable, needy or target group families who will benefit from a range of support services.

    Parent evaluation is collated at Parent Education sessions and Home Visits and response is very positive. Feedback suggests that families are gaining knowledge and awareness through discussion and information supplied and safety products are being used effectively.

    An early survey indicated that over 95% of recipients said that the service and advice given was either good or outstanding. 96% of recipients reported that they had increased awareness of safety issues with 75% identifying that they were significantly more aware. The Parent satisfaction survey was evaluated at the end of year 2.
    • 728 families responded by completing a questionnaire or providing verbal feedback
    • 692 said that the service and advice given was either good or outstanding
    • 698 said they had an increased awareness of safety issues
    • 546 said they were significantly more aware.

    Comments from parents include:
    ‘I would not be able to afford good quality safety equipment and could not fit it anyway.’

    ‘My windows were tied shut with string to stop my toddler falling out until the assessor pointed out that my child could strangle himself - I now have window restrictors fitted which are great and I feel relieved. The co ordinator also linked with my landlord who was reluctant to have them fitted.’

    ‘I did not know how dangerous hot drinks were and will think more about where to put the mug and kettle now.’

    ‘My home is much safer now thanks to Safe at Home scheme.’

    ‘I was not aware of electrical safety and overloading sockets.’

    ‘I now keep all dangerous things in my locked cupboard.’

    ‘The assessor provided excellent guidance and the equipment supplied is fantastic.’

    ‘I was shocked at how hazardous a living room can be, I will definitely make mine safer now.’

    ‘I did have safety gates already but did not know about window restrictors or blind cord winders, I now have them and feel confident that my child is now much safer.’


    Sustaining and replicating your practice

    Helping others to replicate your practice

    A range of barriers/challenges have been encountered over the years. The assessors/project co-ordinator/fitters have found it quite difficult to ensure the family is home for the scheduled appointment. Eligible families are offered one installation visit, however if this is missed with no valid reason, they will forfeit the application. Some families may pressure the home assessors/or installer for more equipment than necessary but this is not permitted without prior agreement.

    A huge challenge in Luton is around language and culture, e.g. ensuring sound understanding of scheme or advice provided, and families not allowing an assessor to view the entire house due to multiple occupancy or traditions. Some issues have arisen from rental accommodation, whereby tenants have had to seek permission from their landlords with regards to specific safety equipment being fitted.

    Safety gates are only recommended up to the age of 24 months and some families expect gates fitted above this age limit, the scheme is unable to permit fitting regardless of circumstances e.g. child’s delayed development, this is due to manufacturers guidelines and British standards.

    Installation issues: some families request supply of equipment but decline fitting, the scheme is unable to offer a “supply only” element following recommendations from RoSPA. It was agreed that equipment needs to be fitted by approved installer to ensure it is fitted correctly and to also reduce the risk of parent selling new equipment in packaging.

    Must do
    Due to the limited amount of funding to enable a certain number of safety equipment packs to be purchased, there had to be a set eligibility criteria attached to the scheme, therefore the family must be living in Luton and on a low income or in receipt of any one of the following benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Job Seekers Allowance
    • Employment and Support Allowance
    • Tax credits with valid NHS exemption
    • Disability living allowance care or mobility component for a disabled child
    • Housing benefit
    • Council tax benefit.

    Families falling outside the above criteria but who are considered ‘High Risk’ will be considered on individual basis e.g. low income but not in receipt of benefits and vulnerable child.

    Unfortunately national funding from RoSPA for the scheme ceased in March 2011 at the end of the term, therefore the project co-ordinator has been instrumental in seeking alternative sources/funding streams. With the scheme proving to be very successful in Luton the programme continued with support from local donations, grants and funding from the local authority.

    From April 2012, the scheme has sought funding from the Children’s Centres, in order to sustain the service offered to families in their reach areas.

    For further sustainability of the scheme, Luton is continually seeking funding to continue the scheme locally for the co-ordinator post, equipment, fitting and training. Promotions seeking local sponsorship have been undertaken at various networking events, and further Local Authority funding is being explored from within the Early Intervention Grant.

    The scheme has provided a strong “two way street” for partnerships, where families have been referred to Safe@Home via partner agencies, or partner agencies are referred to families via the scheme. This works extremely well and gives families the best opportunities for signposting to other services from within Luton.

    As fitting the equipment if carried out by the Fire Service, this allows a fire safety check to be completed at each fit, and smoke alarms/Co2 detectors are provided if required, along with fire safety advice.

    The Scheme has continued the same policy and procedure as directed by RoSPA who successfully set up a 2 year project and carried out national evaluation (this is available on the RoSPA website:

    The Scheme co-ordinator has obtained a City & Guilds qualification in Home Safety and is also a member of the Institute of Home Safety.

    Costs of the scheme
    These include:
    • Scheme Project Co-ordinator
    • Installation (salary for one full time fitter)
    • Equipment
    • Resources

    Approx cost per family £150 per fit.

    No vehicle, diesel, fire safety resources for installation visits as supplied by Fire Service.

    Only one visit per family (this allows higher number of installations to be carried out).

    RoSPA based costing of equipment pack on average supply of 2 safety gates, 6 window restrictors, 1 Fireguard, 1 bathmat, 2 cupboard locks, 2 packs corner cushions, 2 packs cord winders.

    Data shows not all families require fireguards, and not all access safety gates as child may be over 24 months - these two items are the most expensive therefore savings can, and are being made.

    A copy of the evaluation report that accompanied this example is available from the C4EO team at the NFER

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