Therapist Kirsten Neate with patient Cristina Fiore-Krasnic

Frailty and why it’s important

Frailty is the process by which the body gradually loses capability and capacity. Its incidence increases  of patients over 65 and up to half of patients over 85. Frail patients are more likely to be admitted and to stay in hospital for longer: • Each ward move adds 2.5 days to average length of stay for a frail patient

• Triage to inappropriate wards can add 5.5 days to length of stay

department nurse Kate Sendall is the driving force.

“It started a couple of years ago with  ‘bootcamp’ at St Mary’s,” explains Kate. “There was such an appetite for people to learn more about best practice frailty care and it’s really grown from there.”

As well as yearly bootcamps – attended by more than 400 delegates from across the sector to date – Kate now runs regular ‘bitesize’ training sessions within our hospitals and beyond, including with London Ambulance Service, community trusts and Chiswick Nursing Centre, the largest nursing home in Hammersmith and Fulham. Kate also supports a network of more than 60 frailty champions, including everyone from hospital volunteers to registrars, who are tasked with boosting

Spring/Summer 2019

awareness and understanding of frailty within their area of work.

Thanks to one recent pilot on patient wellbeing, the number of patients getting out of bed for lunch increased from around half to nearly three-   while in hospital.

Dr Sarah Brice

“Fundamentally it’s all about kind, person-centred care and making sure that everyone in the Trust and beyond has the right knowledge and skills to understand what matters to a patient and how we can best support them,” adds Kate.


There’s much more to come from the frailty programme, including further work with care homes and in the community with partners across the sector, developing online training

• 10 days of bed rest for older people can mean the equivalent of 10 years of muscle ageing

• Comprehensive geriatric assessments can reduce length of stay for frail patients by up to half

resources, and further integrating frailty assessments into emergency departments.

“This is the future of the NHS and really chimes with the NHS Long Term Plan published nationally,” concludes Dr Sarah Brice, the overall clinical lead for the Trust’s frailty programme. “Collaborating, sharing knowledge and thinking more and more about the whole health and care system – all with the aim of really putting the person we are caring for at the centre of what we do.”


To learn more, contact Kate Sendall on

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