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New Tool Designed To Help Nurses Assess Frailty

UK researchers have designed a tool to help nurses, nursing home staff and other primary care staff to assess frailty and vulnerability in elderly individuals.

Researchers have developed a new tool called the electronic frailty index (eFI). The tool has 36 indicators of frailty that capitalises on routine data that is currently documented on GP databases. These indicators include conditions such as diabetes, anaemia, heart and kidney problems, mobility issues and social vulnerability. The eFI tool was developed by researcher Dr Andrew Clegg from the University of Leeds, and tested by Dr Lynn Lansbury, from the University of Portsmouth.

The tool regularly checks against these conditions and highlights individuals who are more at risk, identifying elderly individuals who may be at risk of future nursing home or hospital admission due to mild, moderate or severe frailty. The new eFI tool also helps GP surgeries provide better care to the most vulnerable people. It will also help to improve health service planning by making better use of available resources.

Dr Lansbury trialled the tool to demonstrate how it worked successfully in a busy primary care setting. Following these trials, the new eFI tool has been made accessible in every GP across England as part of a national implementation project. Dr Clegg said: “Implementing the eFI as part of routine primary care practice could help improve the care of older people with frailty, through a holistic approach to their overall health conditions, quicker referrals and signposting to local authority and voluntary services.”

The report itself is quick and easy to use, easily identifying individuals with a high frailty score in just a number of minutes. Other researchers have backed this statement, explaining during trials, the report was completed after just 5 minutes, which was considered acceptable. Further to this, the eFI scores managed to identify that nearly 12% of their patients aged 75 and over, were found to have severe frailty. If available earlier, it could be speculated that these cases could have been identified sooner and measures put in place to prevent more severe cases.

If frailty is detected early, not only could it lower the use of resources, but it also helps target issues before they become severe. So not only is the eFI report going to help rundown the cost of resources but it can also help prevent people from becoming increasingly vulnerable.

By identifying the most vulnerable individuals nursing home staff are able to offer better support, improving the quality of life within nursing homes and reducing unplanned admissions to hospital and care facilities.

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