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

Delirium awareness is not just for hashtags, it’s for life

Dr Shibley Rahman is an academic physician interested mainly in dementia and frailty. He tweets at @dr_shibley

My most recent experience of delirium was truly terrifying, to the point that, as a care partner of a close relative with dementia experiencing delirium, I felt I needed counselling about this admission to a London teaching hospital.

I have now witnessed delirium ‘around the clock’ for half a month so far.

Delirium research is not taken as seriously as it should be.

Where for example is the research which explains the neural substrates of hypoactive and hyperactive delirium? How long do ‘sleep episodes’ last for? Is it a good idea to wake someone up while he is sleeping? Are there are any neuroprotective agents which prevent long term deterioration after delirium? How much of the delirium will the person experiencing it actually remember? Continue reading

What is “essential” about dementia care?

Dr Shibley Rahman is an academic physician interested mainly in dementia and frailty. He tweets at @dr_shibley

I have often wondered what ‘essential dementia care’ looks like. It must include treating people with respect and dignity.

Failures in dementia care, sustained for a long period of time, however obligate a more detailed response. The concept of personhood was first applied to people with dementia by Tom Kitwood (1997). The concept is used generally to describe what makes up the attributes of “being a person” (Dewing, 2008). According to Kitwood (1997), personhood is ‘a standing or status that is bestowed upon one human being, by others, it implies recognition, respect and trust’. Therefore “dementia care” is potentially a deceptively simple term because respecting personhood means that people are not defined primarily by their conditions. 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

Ward rounds – are they safe and effective for patients and doctors?

Dr Tarun Solanki is a Consultant Physician and Geriatrician at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

Geriatricians are, in many hospitals, now responsible for looking after more than 50% of medical in-patients and are frequently required to look after outliers on non-medical wards. A recent article in the BMJ suggests that doctors’ way of working would not be accepted by businesses making decisions with far less impact and suggests that the old concept of the ward round is broken and needs to change[i].

Since we, as geriatricians are providing a substantial element of acute inpatient care, should we not be at the forefront of improving the ward round so that it is not only effective and safe for patients but also to ensure geriatricians do not suffer from undue work pressures and risk burn-out? Continue reading

Comprehensive Care – NIHR themed review of research into older people with frailty in hospitals

John Gladman is Professor of the Medicine of Older People, Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing and Honorary Consultant in Health Care of Older People at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Vast sums are spent on research into the care of older people, but they are wasted if the findings are not put into practice.

I had an epiphany a few years ago. I looked at my carefully curated curriculum vitae, and noted that I had over 100 peer reviewed papers to my name. But I suddenly felt deflated when I realised that hardly anybody (apart from the journals’ editors) had ever read them. Deflation was followed by shame as I realised that I had made no effort to disseminate my findings to those who might find them useful, or to encourage the application of the findings in practice. I recovered a bit when I realised that it wasn’t just me. There is a real problem as the amount of research being published is monstrously huge. But I returned to shame again when I thought about how little effort I have taken to ensure that I keep up to date with other people’s research. Continue reading

Blue Ribbon Patient: Do Not Transfer

Rick Strang RN is Emergency Care Improvement Lead at Isle of Wight NHS Trust in England. When not involved in all types of emergency care Rick is usually finding innovative ways to avoid household chores.

Most of us across acute care have been involved in late night bed pressures that call for that dreaded decision to need to move some patients around between wards. Typically we see the only beds available to be surgical ones whilst the demand is for acute medical beds. Moving acute medical patients directly to these outlying beds from the emergency department (ED) may present too much of a risk. Lower acuity patients from acute wards are therefore often sought out to be transferred into these surgical beds thus making way for the more acute ED demand. End of Life (EoL) patients seem particularly at risk of being moved, which can be very distressing for families, friends, the patient and the care teams. Continue reading

LOST: Sense of humour

Bridget Leach has been a nurse for over 30 years. She currently work in falls prevention but was also a ward nurse and ward sister for many years.

LOST: Sense of humour OWNER: NHS Reward for return: happier, healthy & retainable workforce.

The above may seem flippant but a simple google of the term ‘Do hospital managers have a sense of humour?’ returned a myriad of articles including academic research.

Some of the articles were what I would consider odd; for example; a member of hospital staff doing tricks with disappearing scarves while …”the surgeons began cutting away dead flesh …” to a ‘humour cart’ containing, amongst other things, ‘funny props’; I know plenty of hospital staff who, in certain circumstances, would consider a bedpan on the head and a proctoscope a funny prop so who knows? Continue reading

Predicting who will be admitted to a care home from hospital?

Jenni Burton is a Clinical Research Fellow in Geriatric Medicine funded by the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. Here she discusses the results of two linked systematic reviews of predictors of care home admission from hospital. She tweets @JenniKBurton.

Care home admission from hospital has long been recognised as an area of significant variation in practice (Oliver D et al. 2014. Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population) and one which remains a strategic target to reduce across the UK. However, more than half of care home admissions each year in Scotland come directly from hospital settings. It is therefore important to explore the predictors of this life-changing transition to help inform prognostication, communication with individuals and their families, service planning and the extent to which we can intervene to prevent or modify this outcome.  Continue reading