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Frailty Taskforce

The Frailty Taskforce will focus on how to improve care for people living with frailty or at high risk of becoming frail. This will include strengthening a more integrated approach to frailty, ageing well and end of life care. The Frailty Taskforce will be exploring and advising on all aspects of the frailty spectrum.

Read more about the Frailty Taskforce

What is Frailty?

Frailty is a common syndrome that occurs from a combination of de-conditioning and acute illness on a background of existing functional decline that is often under-recognised.

“Frailty is characterised by a decline in functioning across multiple physiological symptoms, accompanied by an increased vulnerability to stressors. It is associated with increased mortality, hospitalisation, falls and admission to long term care. There is also much individual burden for a person living with frailty, including impaired quality of life and loneliness”.
Frailty: implications for clinical practice and public health Emiel O Hoogendijk, Jonathan Afilalo, Kristine E Ensrud, Paul Kowal, Graziano Onder, Linda P Fried Lancet 2019; 394: 1365–75
It is important to note that frailty is not an inevitable result of ageing and can be treated and in some cases, even reversed.

Frailty was succinctly described in plain English at the recent ACI Frailty Forum by Dr Tracy Brown, Geriatrician in Hunter New England LHD:

Why is the Agency for Clinical Innovation focusing on frailty?

Not all older people are frail and not all people living with frailty are old. However, it is important to identify frailty early in order to combat the condition and it effects.
Sydney North Health Network
Once frailty is established, other geriatric syndromes are more likely to emerge, e.g falls, incontinence, functional decline, pressure areas, mild cognitive impairment and delirium.

In 2018, the ACI embarked upon an investigation of overdiagnosis and overtreatment in older people living with frailty. The Overdiagnosis and overtreatment in the frail elderly report looked at a range of evidence and found that:

  • people raised concerns about how frailty is defined, the choices they are given and decision making processes, their quality of life, and varying levels of health literacy;
  • people with polypharmacy (≥5 drugs) and hyper-polypharmacy (≥10 drugs) have higher frailty scores, and
  • over-diagnosed diseases included chronic kidney disease, hypothyroidism, prostate/breast cancer, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension and dementia.
  • While research evidence is limited, positive effects ( arise from deprescribing efforts, other decision support tools and shared decision making and that culture and leadership is key within the healthcare setting.

Given the multifaceted interventions required to support improvements to care for people living with or at risk of frailty, ACI established a Frailty Taskforce in December 2019.