Expert guidance calls for new approach to designing frailty services
A major new guidance document, launched today by the British Geriatrics Society with support from Age UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners, offers a new perspective on commissioning and designing health services for older patients with frailty.
"Fit for Frailty Part 2" calls on commissioners to foreground preventative support for older patients, detailed assessments of the needs of older patients with frailty, and closer integration between different services. It provides detailed guidance on how the commissioning and management of services for people living with frailty in community settings can (and does) work in practice.
Frailty is an increasingly urgent issue facing health care service design. Older people are the main users of health and social care services; approximately 10 per cent of people aged over 65, and 25 to 50 per cent of those aged over 85, are living with frailty.
Research suggests that only half of older people with frailty syndromes receive effective health care interventions; there is also some evidence that focusing community services on those with frailty rather than on those ‘at highest risk of hospital admission’ might improve quality of patient care and reduce hospital bed usage.
Commenting on the launch of "Fit for Frailty Part 2", Dr. Gill Turner (BGS Vice President, Clinical Quality, and Fit for Frailty Project Group Lead) said:
“As a group, ‘older people with frailty’ includes a diversity of individuals, each with different expectations, hopes, fears, strengths and abilities, as well as different types and levels of need and support.
There is a risk of significant harm to patients with frailty if health interventions are planned for them in the absence of recognition of their frailty. It is the job of clinicians and service providers to ensure that individual differences are, as far as is possible, accommodated, thus restoring control, preserving dignity and facilitating person-centred care to the older person living with frailty and those close to them.
"Fit for Frailty Part 2" aims to be an invaluable resource for all GPs, geriatricians, Health Service managers, Social Service managers and Commissioners of Services, helping them to provide integrated person-centred services for the frail older people in their care”
Prof. John Young (National Clinical Director for Integration and Frail Elderly at NHS England, and member of the Fit for Frailty Working Group), said:
“Services which properly take into account the needs of older patients with frailty are already successful realities throughout the UK, but they are far from widespread. This guidance aims to help commissioners build on those examples, and make them routine throughout the NHS.
A robust community-based response to older people who have frailty will be essential if we are to meet the challenges posed by an ageing population. Fit for Frailty Part 2 will be a key part of making that goal a reality”.
Today’s launch follows the June 2014 release of "Fit for Frailty Part 1", which focused on recognising the condition of frailty, and understanding the strategies available for managing it, within community and outpatient settings.
The influential medical journal Age & Ageing will also be publishing a virtual issue this month, focusing specifically on frailty.
This will gather together selected publications from the journal, covering conceptual descriptions of frailty, reporting its epidemiology, contrasting different options for clinical assessment, and identifying interventions which might improve outcomes.
Notes to editors:
For further information about or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, contact Ed Gillett on / 0207 608 8572, or Liz Fairweather on / 020 3033 1718
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is a professional association of doctors practising geriatric medicine, old age psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, therapists, scientists, GPs and others with a particular interest in the medical care of older people and in promoting better health in old age. It has over 2,700 members worldwide and is the only society in the UK offering specialist medical expertise in the wide range of health care needs of older people.
Follow the BGS on Twitter @GeriSoc