Research suggests that changes in the immune system, longstanding inflammation, and decline of the musculoskeletal and endocrine systems all contribute to the onset of fraility.
Frailty occurs more often as people become older. Of people over 85 years of age about one in four is living with frailty and increasingly it is suggested that frailty needs to be thought of as a long-term condition.
Older people who are living with frailty often say they have fatigue, unintended weight loss, diminished strength and their ability to recover from illness, even minor ones, or injury is greatly reduced. This can have a marked impact on the quality and length of their lives.
Age UK spoke with older people to help discover what is like to live with frailty, and produced films and content to explore what the term frailty means to older people. You can view these on the Age UK website.
The British Geriatric Society recommends that "Any interaction between an older person and a health or social care professional should include an assessment which helps to identify if the individual has frailty".
One method of identifying frailty in the first instance is based on the presence of indicators (Fried et al 2001). If on assessment of an older patient you are able to identify three out of the five following indicators as being present, then you can identify the patient as being frail: unintentional weight loss; feelings of exhaustion; weakness; slow walking speed and low levels of physical activity.
Frailty is a slowly progressing complex clinical syndrome that can be identified at an early stage. There are interventions that can slow decline and prevent crises.
Nurses should identify frail older people in their area of practice using validated screening and assessment tools and direct patients and carers to supportive services and interventions.The interventions that people living with frailty can benefit from vary considerably and often need to be individually tailored. They should also be supported by a mutually created care plan.
RCN initial response to HSJ Frailty Commission Consultation 2014
The RCN's response to the Health Service Journal's Frailty Commission Consultation
British Geriatrics Society, Scotland (2014) Think frailty and delirium - the Scottish approach
Includes an assessment tool which encourages the targeting of the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) at patients likely to benefit from it
Frailsafe aims to improve measured quality of care for frail older patients admitted to NHS hospitals with medical emergencies
Royal College of General Practitioners. Joining up care for older people with frailty
This report shows how GPs and geriatricians are collaborating to design and lead innovative schemes to improve the provision of integrated care for older people with frailty
Safe, compassionate care for frail older people using an integrated care pathway
NHS England published examples of good practice and the wider issues relating to how care for people living with frailty should be delivered
Supporting older people with frailty and achieving the requirements of the unplanned admissions enhanced service
NHS England toolkit aims to provide GPs and practice nurses with a suite of tools to support the case finding, assessment and case management of frail older patients
Throughout my two years as your President I have been proud to continue working on the front line as a nurse specialist in sexual health, enabling great insight into the daily challenges we all face in delivering care.
If you re-elect me as your President, I will work with you to build on our achievements. We have succeeded in putting nurses on the shortage occupation list, we have challenged the Trade Union Bill and we support our dedicated nursing staff by contesting government policies that assault the dignity of our profession. We will continue to fight to protect our terms and conditions and ensure that everyone can enter our profession with confidence.
I have been bold in lobbying and influencing policy makers. It is vital that the RCN leads and shapes the contribution that nursing makes to wider social matters. I have built alliances so that your voices are heard across a broad range of issues. Some of the areas I have championed include: health and well-being for men, for example the 'ONE YOU CAMPAIGN' by NHS England which tackles the health inequality that impacts vulnerable patients; better provision for people with learning difficulties and mental health problems; climate change; and violence against women. I am passionate about these, and other issues yet to be tackled, and welcome the opportunity to build on the inroads we have made.
I stand with you on the front line of nursing care, just as I march with you to defend our profession.
This is what your ballot paper will look like. Make sure you return it in the pre-paid envelope by 16 November.
The EU referendum and the government’s austerity agenda are changing our country and our NHS during a transition to a very uncertain future. And we will need the engagement and involvement of RCN members to guide and inform on our future direction of the RCN. We need a strong leadership team to help us through this time.
That is why I am standing for the position of President, because I think I have the experience, vision and drive to help deliver that agenda. I have had three terms of office on Council, chaired the trade union arm of the RCN, and represented the College at ICN. I am a Steward and a Safety Representative. I have a strong national media profile related to health, patient care and employment.
My three key pledges I make to you are:
I wouldn't be standing for election if I didn't have something to offer you. By voting for me, you will get a President who will speak up for you, for our patients, and for our Royal College of Nursing.
Please vote for me.