Patient Safety Collaboratives are a national programme to improve the safety of patients and ensure learning sits at the heart of healthcare in England. The programme is led by each of the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

Our Action on Frailty Patient Safety Collaborative aims to make the East of England the safest place to grow old. We will address the safety concerns of frail older people in the community, in hospitals and in care homes.

To help achieve this ambition we are developing a quality improvement infrastructure that will support continued service improvement and innovation. This includes:

  • regional faculty of quality improvement leaders
  • suite of quality improvement capability building programmes
  • board leadership programme, delivered in partnership with AQuA

We have produced a one-page summary about the collaborative that describes the broad way forward. Please download our ‘Plan on a Page’ below.

Our ambition is to make the East of England the safest place to grow old. We aim to improve care for our frail older population in the community, in hospital and in residential care settings. We bring together people from across the health and care systems, so that they can work with patients and families, in local teams, to test changes in their community. The improvement programme encompasses:
  • medications safety
  • safer transfers in care
  • identification and response to deterioration.

What is frailty?

Frailty is a clinically recognised state of increased vulnerability. It results from ageing associated with a decline in the body’s physical and psychological reserves. Frailty varies in its severity. The degree of frailty of an individual is not static; it naturally varies over time and can be made better and worse. Frailty is not an inevitable part of ageing; it is a long-term condition like diabetes or dementia.

Why is frailty important?

Older people living with frailty are at risk of dramatic deterioration in their physical and mental wellbeing after an apparently small event which challenges their health (eg infection, new medication, fall, constipation or urine retention). Frailty might not be apparent unless actively considered and sought.

Many people with multiple long-term conditions will also have frailty which may be overlooked if the focus is on disease based long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart failure. Other people whose only long term condition is frailty, may not be known to primary care or the local authority until they become immobile, bed bound, or delirious as a result of an apparently minor illness. There is evidence that in individuals with frailty, a person-centred, goal-orientated comprehensive approach reduces poor outcomes and may reduce hospital admission.

Further reading: British Geriatric Society

Working across pathways

Improving services for frail older people is complex. It requires all parts of the health and care system to work together, since many older people use multiple services, and the quality, capacity and responsiveness of any one component will affect others.

Transforming services requires a fundamental shift towards care that is coordinated around the full range of an individual’s needs (rather than care based around single diseases) and care that truly prioritises prevention and support for maintaining independence. Achieving this will require much more integrated working to ensure that the right mix of services is available in the right place at the right time. Incremental, marginal change is not sufficient; change is needed at scale and at pace.

Further reading: King’s Fund, Making our health and care system fit for an aging population

Learning events

Our Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC) brings together individuals and teams from across the region every six months to share good practice and develop improvement skills. Our learning events provide an opportunity for like-minded colleagues to exchange ideas and forge connections with others involved in local and regional initiatives.

Keep an eye on our events page to find out about forthcoming learning events or contact us to be added to the mailing list.

© Eastern AHSN