The frailty journey so far: where are we heading?

Professor Martin Vernon qualified in 1988 in Manchester. Following training in the North West he moved to East London to train in Geriatric Medicine where he also acquired an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College. In 2016 Martin was appointed National Clinical Director for Older People and Person Centred Integrated Care at NHS England. Here he discusses the 3rd National Frailty Conference which will be held on 28 September 2017 in Leeds. He tweets @runnermandoc 

The 19th Century term ‘watershed’ refers to a ridge of high ground separating bodies of water flowing in different directions. With this in mind I believe the 3rd National Frailty Conference in Leeds this year truly does mark a watershed moment. It will provide a valuable and timely opportunity both to reflect and add clarity to the new direction of travel we are taking with routine frailty identification and intervention for older people on a national scale. Make no mistake: bringing frailty into the mainstream is game changing.

Over the last year I have been continually impressed by the enthusiasm, ingenuity and commitment around the country focused on improving care and outcomes for our expanding and ageing population.  As a health and care system collectively we have much to celebrate from the hard work already done. Continue reading

Why I’m Fine with “Frailty”

Professor David Oliver is a Past President of the BGS, clinical vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians, and a consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. Here he responds to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon? He tweets @mancunianmedic

Dr Steve Parry’s recent blog here, “The Frailty Industry. Too much too soon” certainly generated a great deal of hits and online responses. He is a well-respected geriatrician, has done sterling work for our speciality and we are friends in a speciality where solidarity and mutual respect are wonderfully the norm.

The more I reflect, the more I realise that none involved in the debate are a million miles apart in any case. We have all devoted our professional lives to the skilled multidisciplinary care of older people, especially those with the most complex needs; to the speciality of geriatric medicine; to the leadership of local services; to the education of the next generation of geriatricians and to developing the evidence base for practice.  Continue reading

Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

Dr Zoe Wyrko is a Consultant physician at University Hospital Birmingham and is the Director of Workforce for the BGS. In this blog she discusses the recent Channel 4 programme in which she appeared, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. She tweets @geri_baby

I’ve always had a soft spot for care homes. As a child I would occasionally go into work with my Mum and meet some of the old ladies she talked about. When I was older I started work in the same nursing home as a kitchen girl on Saturdays, and then later progressed to health care assistant. I remain proud of my training record from that time, showing I am competent to deliver personal care, clean dentures and cut nails.

This is why I was excited when an approach came from CPL productions, who were looking for geriatricians to be involved with a television programme they wanted to make about introducing children to a care home environment. Continue reading

The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?

Steve Parry works in acute medicine and older people’s medicine. He has a special interest in investigation and treatment of falls and blackouts in adult patients of all ages. He is BGS Vice President – Academic and Research.

Fashions come and go, in clothing, news and even movie genres. Medicine, including geriatric medicine, is no exception. When I was a trainee, falls and syncope was the next big thing, pursued with huge enthusiasm by a few who became the many. But when does a well-meaning medical fashion become a potentially destructive fad? Frailty, quite rightly, has developed from something geriatricians and allied professionals always did to become a buzz word even neurosurgeons bandy about. No bad thing for all professionals who see older people to have awareness of the recognition and management of this vulnerable and resource intensive patient group. Continue reading

Person-centred care in a sustainable system

Dr Eileen Burns has been a geriatrician in Leeds since 1992 and is President of the BGS. She is currently Clinical Lead for integration in Leeds. She tweets @EileenBurns13 This blog originally appeared as part of Independent Age’s Doing Care Differently series. You can join the debate here.

We warmly welcome Independent Age’s new project, Doing care differently. Our members are passionate advocates for person-centred care. The role of geriatricians and specialist health care professionals starts with identifying the care and treatment that best suits an older person’s individual needs and wishes, and those of their families and carers.  Delays in access to social care, and also in intermediate care, for example, occupational and physio therapy, create unnecessary barriers to person centred care, leading to poorer health outcomes, an increased likelihood of presenting at A&E, and people having to stay on acute hospital wards for longer than necessary.  For older people with frailty the negative impact when this occurs is significant, and their health deteriorates with every additional day spent on an acute hospital ward. Continue reading

Rapid assessment and frailty

Beverley Marriott is a Advanced nurse practitioner working in the Birmingham community healthcare foundation trust. She is also a King’s College Older Person Fellow

There continues to be a growing emphasis on older people and emergency hospital admissions, with Frailty often used as a ‘wrap’ around term for ‘older people’. Older people with multiple complex comorbidities are a growing number of emergency attendances, hospital stays and admissions.

Frailty defined as a loss of physical and psychological reserves, which means an increased vulnerability to minor stressor events. People living with frailty can often go unnoticed until they reach crisis point as many people with frailty are not necessarily known to their community services, acute care, voluntary sectors or GPs. Is A&E the only place for frail patients to go when they hit crisis?   Continue reading

Seen the doctor on the Tele? Patient centred care needs to arrive for all, and none more urgent than for our older patients

Chris Subbe is a Consultant in Acute, Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine. He is a Service Improvement Fellow with the Health Foundation. He does research on patient safety at Bangor University. He tweets @csubbe

Unsurprisingly many of us have more medical needs as we get older. While some people manage to stay remarkably fit, for others it is getting more difficult to get around town or worse across country. The hike around an overflowing car park of an inner-city hospital does surprisingly little for mobility, and most people get little value from sitting in an outpatient waiting area to wait while their medical team is struggling with the application of queuing theory to healthcare.

A few years ago, when granddad was sent a follow-up appointment for his cardiac surgery several months after the operation, I was suspicious. I rang the secretary of the colleague who had done an amazing job on his heart to ask for the reason for the review. “An important part of quality assurance: we like to make sure that everything has gone well”. I explained that granddad had been in hospital, survived prolonged rehabilitation, and had already been followed up by an excellent local geriatrician and one of our brilliant cardiologists. He felt well. I suggested cancelling the appointment. Continue reading

PSP – more than just difficult PD, and how geriatricians have a key role to play…

Carol Amirghiasvand is the Helpline and Information Services Manager for the PSP Association (PSPA). She has worked in the voluntary sector for nearly 20 years providing information and support to people with neurological conditions. Her current role is managing the Information and Support services provided by PSPA to ensure knowledge and understanding of PSP and CBD is increased and that people affected by these conditions have access to a more acceptable quality of care and support. Follow the PSP Association @PSPASSOCIATION

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is a commonly misdiagnosed neurological condition with an average age of onset of 63. Almost 40% of respondents to a recent survey by the PSP Association saw a geriatrician before being referred to a neurologist, meaning that geriatricians can play a vital role in identifying the disease and ensuring rapid access to the most appropriate care. Continue reading

Systematic reviews for studies of older people

Susan Shenkin is Associate Editor for Systematic Reviews at Age and Ageing journal. She has recently published Systematic reviews: guidance relevant for studies of older people. She tweets at @SusanShenkin

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are increasingly common. Our recent article in Age and Ageing journal aims to provide guidance for people conducting systematic reviews relevant to the healthcare of older people. It’s essential that systematic reviews are performed by a team which includes the required technical and clinical expertise: if you’re planning to do a review, ask for advice and support early. We hope that highlighting these issues will also help people reading systematic reviews to determine whether the results will influence their clinical practice. Here is a summary of ‘good practice points’. Continue reading

Autumn Speakers Series: A glimpse into the future of acute care for older people; innovation, connectivity, transformation

Professor Roger Wong is Executive Associate Dean, Education in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia (UBC). He is a consultant geriatrician at Vancouver General Hospital, where he founded the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit that is replicated across Canada and internationally. He tweets at @RogerWong10 and is a key opinion leader in geriatrics and ageing. In this blog article he discusses the determinants that can transform the future of acute care for older people. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London.

For all of us who work with seniors in the hospital setting, we often wonder what the future holds for acute care for older people. While our crystal ball may appear blurry on some of the exact details, we can certainly take a sneak preview now on three determinants that can change and shape the future of acute care geriatrics.

First, disruptive innovation in the medical sciences has already begun to transform the delivery of healthcare in seniors. Take cancer for example, which affects a significant number of older people every year. Continue reading