11/06/2019

Frailty and the NHS Long Term Plan

Frailty is becoming an area of clinical care that is becoming more and more in focus and the topic of discussion between both clinicians and patients. It features strongly in the NHS Long Term Plan published in 2018 and focuses on three main areas:

  • Improve NHS care in care homes.
  • Identify and provide proactive support to older people living with frailty in the community.
  • Enhance rapid community response at times of crisis.

In order for us to deliver on these targets and provide better care for adults living with frailty, we need to develop a health and social care workforce with skill, knowledge and engagement of the topic of frailty, what it means and how it impacts our patients. 

Here at the University of Bolton, the Care of the Frail Adult module aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills to support their services to fulfil these aims. Julie Gregory, HE Level 6 CPD student: “With regards to the subject of frailty I feel I have found a new purpose at work now.

I have learned so much that will help me provide better care for my patients” Carol Robertson, MSc Advanced Practice student: “This module has given me the opportunity to discover a lot of things I didn't know plus perk my interest even more than I thought possible!” We are advised to use the word Frailty, or ‘the F word’ as it has been referred to by Professor Martin J Vernon, with caution when communicating with our patients.

We must build a rapport with them, and help them to understand why they are less resilient to uncomplicated stressors and ailments. However, the word does not evoke a positive response from many people, especially to describe themselves.

Frailty remains, however, an important term and topic to unify our thinking and learning as health and social care practitioners.

As frailty features strongly within the NHS Long Term Plan – are we likely to see a shift in familiarity with the F word from patients as well as practitioners? Only time will tell, however, the focus on developing services and skill is definitely here to stay.

Sophie Wallington (Module Lead)

Clinical and Biomedical Sciences

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