How (I try!) to avoid a hospital admission for someone with frailty

Dr Amy Heskett is a Speciality Doctor working in a Community Geriatrics team within West Kent called the Home Treatment Service. This team works alongside paramedics, GPs and district nurses to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions for people with frailty, multiple comorbidities, caring responsibilities or as part of end of life care.  The home visits use bedside testing and a multi-disciplinary approach to provide management of many acute medical presentations in a home-setting.  The development of these holistic plans requires a creative approach and the experiences often generate tweets @mrsapea and blogs at

The bag I take on every home visit has numerous pockets with endless equipment and forms required at my fingertips. I clip the same badges and emergency kit to myself at the start of every shift and I take this order and strict routine with me into environments over which I have little control.  It is within this mix of structure and chaos that the creativity to manage conditions and sometimes crises within a community setting arises.

Publications and conferences have explained the importance of avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions (especially for those with frailty) and commissioners require data on the number we have achieved. Continue reading

Creating a ‘Frail Friendly’ Acute Medical Unit… ‘not rocket science’

Teresa Dowsing trained as a physician associate at the University of Birmingham Medical School. She has worked in geriatric medicine for around 7 years and is the Frailty Lead for the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust. To read more about physician associates and the British Geriatrics Society click here.

Creating a ‘Frail Friendly’ Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust ….or what some specialities in my Trust used to call ‘not rocket science’…

Thinking about the latter part of this title, most of us that try to ‘practice’ geriatrics understand that it does sometimes feel like some form of mysterious dark art. A pinch of medicine, followed by a smidgeon of rehabilitation, mixed together with a drop of social care, a big dollop of communication and a dash of common sense. Simple? Not always….. Continue reading

Using population sub-segmentation to promote tailored end of life care in later life

Professor Martin Vernon is National Clinical Director for Older People and Person Centred Integrated Care at NHS England. He tweets @runnermandoc. Dr Dawn Moody is Associate National Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Person-Centred Care for NHS England. She tweets @Moody_D_K. They will be speaking at the BGS Living and Dying Well with Frailty event today. Follow the conference via #bgsconf

Frailty is an especially problematic long term condition characterised by declining intrinsic capacity to deal with stressor events such as acute illness or physical accidents. When severe it significantly increases personal annual risk of reaching end of life. While occurring alongside human ageing, not everyone develops frailty and it is not solely confined to older people. NHS England estimates 20% of the population aged 90 and over remains fit and are therefore likely to be fortunate in ageing well. Conversely we estimate that up to 25% of people aged 65 to 69 are living with mild frailty in England which compared to their fit peer group places them at twice the annual risk of reaching end of life.  A further 5% of this age group is estimated to be living with moderate or severe frailty. Continue reading

We must do more to ensure no-one misses out on rehab

Professor Karen Middleton is Chief Executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Karen is a Fellow of the Society of Orthopaedic Medicine, and, in that capacity, has taught physiotherapists and GPs on a national and international basis. Here she discusses the report Recovering after a hip fracture:
helping people understand physiotherapy in the NHS.

It’s the overwhelming feelings of regret and loss that get me. Every time. Whenever I hear a family member say they ‘can only wonder what might have been’ or a patient talking about what they can no longer do.

Whenever I see our Rehab Matters film I know that the fictional story it depicts is playing out in real life, behind closed doors, in homes across the country. It cuts deeply, as a physiotherapist, to hear these stories of how a lack of access to rehabilitation has changed a life.

It makes me burn at the injustice of so many people missing out. Because I know how access to high-quality rehabilitation can change a life for the better – how it can return a person to the things they love, and to the things they do with the people they love. How it can restore independence and a sense of self-worth. How it can restore a life; how it can save a life.  Continue reading

Can a National Frailty Education Programme be a driver of culture change in healthcare?

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and Deirdre Lang is the Director of Nursing, National Clinical Programme for Older People, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Health Services Executive

We all know that population ageing is occurring rapidly. Between 2015 and 2030 the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by an extraordinary 56%. By 2050, the global population of older people is projected to more than double its size (United Nations, 2015). In Ireland, the population 65 years and over is projected to increase by between 58 and 63 per cent from 2015 to 2030. The older old population (i.e. those aged 80 years of age and over) is set to rise even more dramatically, by between 85 per cent and 94 per cent in this time period (ESRI 2017). Continue reading

Using a frailty index in the Emergency Department

Dr Audrey-Anne Brousseau is the first fellow in geriatric emergency medicine in Canada. She was recently appointed as assistant professor at the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec. Her work focuses on developing best practices for older adults in the emergency department.

EDs are often the safety net of the health care system where the mission is to (rapidly) evaluate, intervene and organize transitions of care. With the aging of the population and the growing presence of older adults in EDs, this mission represents a significant challenge because older adults are complex on multiple levels.

How do we determine whether a patient is fit to go back home — or not?  Needs admission —  or not? Would benefit from rehabilitation, additional community services, further assessment — or not?  A comprehensive geriatric assessment will provide this answer, but is rarely readily available in most EDs. Moreover, human and material resources are often limited in public health care system preventing all older adults ED patients to get a geriatric assessment and appropriate interventions. Continue reading

Specialist Care Frailty Network – we need your help!

Dr Simon Conroy is a geriatrician at University Hospitals of Leicester, Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Leicester and an Associate Editor for Age and Ageing journal. 

Dear fellow BGS members,

Some of you might have heard about the Acute Frailty Network, which has been in existence for a few years now. The focus of the Acute Frailty Network has been acute medical care and to some extent emergency care. The Specialist Care Frailty Network will focus upon the care of older people with frailty in six specialist services:

  • Renal Dialysis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Emergency Cranial Neurosurgery
  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Complex Spinal Surgery
  • Adult Critical Care

Continue reading

HIV and Older People

World AIDS Day is dedicated to fighting stigma and discrimination, and raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We mark this day by, in turn, raising awareness of older people with HIV.

Incidence and prevalence of HIV in older people is increasing. In the UK one in five adults with HIV is aged over 50. This is a consequence both of the expansion in uptake of HIV testing and diagnosis and major improvements in treatments which are helping people with HIV to live longer.

The fact that older people with HIV are living longer where there is access to treatment is a cause for celebration but it also brings challenges for geriatric medicine. Older people with HIV commonly experience co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia. Medical management of HIV in older people requires considerations of complex drug interactions and co-morbidities.

Early diagnosis of HIV is key to improving prognosis. Treatment with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) significantly prolongs life expectancy, however it is associated with an increased risk of side effects in older patients. Continue reading

Fitter individuals are at the highest risk of death associated with delirium

Melanie Dani is a trainee in geriatric medicine in the North West Thames deanery. She is also completing a PhD at Imperial College London studying biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease, and has an interest in cognition and dementia.

It is well-recognised that delirium is associated with increased mortality. It’s less clear, though, whether this is the case across the spectrum of frailty. There is an idea that delirium might have bimodal outcomes – worse in frailer people, but may be protective in fitter individuals by highlighting an underlying problem early and (potentially) prompting earlier treatment.

While past studies have accounted for chronic diseases and acute illness severity, few have accounted for both. We wanted to see whether the associations of delirium with mortality remained so even after accounting for acute and chronic health factors, so we modelled both these together in a frailty index. This included 31 variables encompassing chronic disease, acute illness parameters, and functional status and was applied in a large cohort of acute medical older inpatients. Continue reading

Older people are living longer than before, but are they living healthier?

Ruby Yu is a research assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), specialising in gerontology and geriatrics. She is also a research fellow at the CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing. Her recent paper Trajectories of frailty among Chinese older people in Hong Kong between 2001 and 2012: An Age-period-cohort Analysis was published today in Age and Ageing journal.

There is no doubt that people from countries all over of the world are living longer, but there is little evidence to suggest that older people today are living healthier than their predecessors did at the same age. This is a major cause of concern for many governments around the world because if the added years of people today are dominated by chronic diseases and functional disabilities, there will be negative implications (e.g., extended treatment for older people which increases the health and social care cost to society). Continue reading