What is frailty?
Age UK describes frailty as a state where someone struggles to bounce back and recover from events like illnesses and injury. If someone is frail, a relatively minor illness such as a UTI can have long lasting impacts on their health and wellbeing. Around 10% of adults over the age of 65 live with frailty. This increases to up to 50% of adults over the age of 85.
True or false?
- Frailty is an inevitable part of ageing? False – frailty is a condition on it’s own and can be prevented with timely intervention and management.
- Everyone with multiple health conditions are frail. False – although frailty and multiple health conditions often occur together, it is possible to live well with multiple health conditions if they are managed well
- Frailty is a reversible condition. True – we often think that frailty is untreatable, however it is a dynamic condition and people who have frailty, with the right management and support, can improve to pre-frailty states.
How do we assess frailty?
With older adults transitioning into higher levels of frailty and therefore dependence, it is important to understand the identification, assessment and actions within adult social care. In relation to our aging population it is necessary to ask the first question within your care organisation: how am I measuring the levels of frailty within my workplace? Once frailty has been identified in a service user, a comprehensive, holistic assessment is essential to ensure correct management and to enable best quality of life.
Here are some tools you can use to help you assess:
How should we treat frailty?
As discussed above, frailty is not an inevitable part of ageing and can successfully be treated with appropriate and timely intervention. Please find below some helpful documents to assist you in supporting your service users:
- NICE: Improving care and support for people with frailty – this webpage provides links and direction to various NICE guidelines that can be linked to supporting people with frailty.
- NHS RightCare Frailty Toolkit – this toolkit will provide you with expert practical advice and guidance on how to commission and provide the best system wide care for people living with frailty.
- Acute Urgent-Emergency Frailty Pathway – this comprehensive flow chart developed by local services provides action advice to support people with frailty in an emergency situation, including their transition to hospital.
- Proactive management of frail person in the community – this comprehensive flow chart developed by local services provides advice on proactively managing people with frailty to improve their condition.