Providing the best care for people living with frailty

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition of “Supporting people to age well”. This includes improving people’s health in later life by slowing the development of frailty through earlier identification and preventative measures.  As the population ages, frailty is becoming a more prevalent condition presenting local health systems with a number of key challenges:

  • Increasing numbers of people are at risk of developing frailty. A person living with mild frailty has twice the mortality risk of a fit older person.
  • More people living with mild, moderate or severe frailty are attending emergency departments, with over 4000 admissions daily for people living with frailty.
  • Older people living with mild moderate or severe frailty are more likely to have delayed transfers of care. 45% of people experiencing delayed transfers of care are over 85 (approximately 50% of people aged 85 and over will encounter frailty).
  • People living with mild moderate or severe frailty could often have their needs met best in settings outside of acute hospital care. Severe frailty often brings over four times the costs of non-frailty.

Today, the NHS RightCare Frailty Toolkit is published, developed in collaboration with NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Older People, Age UK, Getting It Right First Time, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and a range of other clinical stakeholders. It provides a national case for change and expert practical advice and guidance on how to commission and provide the best care for people living with frailty.

The Long Term Plan commits to giving older people greater control over the care they receive, with more care and support being offered in or close to people’s homes, rather than in hospital.

In addressing and sharing best practice and approaches to identify and slow the development of frailty, the amount of time older people spend in hospital and urgent and emergency care will reduce.

Professor Martin Vernon, National Clinical Director for Older People said “using the right data intelligence we can go much further, much quicker if we help local commissioners make the right decisions and plans which meet the needs of their local populations. The NHS Long Term Plan provides a unique opportunity and a national blueprint to improve and develop the services we have in place now and to target new investments in ways that can make a real difference to people. To achieve our national ambitions the real differences will be made and felt by people in local communities right across the country.

This is where the NHS RightCare Frailty Toolkit is of crucial importance. By highlighting to commissioners where they have opportunities to improve their local services, we intend that all older people are provided with the best value healthcare and supported to age well wherever they live. These tools will be invaluable in helping local teams to develop, improve and deliver 21st century health care services using state of the art, data driven intelligence”.

Health systems can use this resource as a framework for their local improvement discussions.