Current health care systems are not optimally designed to meet the needs of our aging populations. First, the fragmentation of care often results in discontinuity of care that can undermine the quality of care provided. Second, patient involvement in care decisions is not sufficiently facilitated.
To describe the development and the content of a program aimed at: (1) facilitating self-management and shared decision making by frail older people and informal caregivers, and (2) reducing fragmentation of care by improving collaboration among professionals involved in the care of frail older people through a combined multidisciplinary electronic health record (EHR) and personal health record (PHR).
We used intervention mapping to systematically develop our program in six consecutive steps. Throughout this development, the target populations (ie, professionals, frail older people, and informal caregivers) were involved extensively through their participation in semi-structured interviews and working groups.
We developed the Health and Welfare Information Portal (ZWIP), a personal, Internet-based conference table for multidisciplinary communication and information exchange for frail older people, their informal caregivers, and professionals. Further, we selected and developed methods for implementation of the program, which included an interdisciplinary educational course for professionals involved in the care of frail older people, and planned the evaluation of the program.
This paper describes the successful development and the content of the ZWIP as well as the strategies developed for its implementation. Throughout the development, representatives of future users were involved extensively. Future studies will establish the effects of the ZWIP on self-management and shared decision making by frail older people as well as on collaboration among the professionals involved.
Self-care; cooperative behavior; interdisciplinary communication; electronic health records; frail elderly
Frail elderly people need an integrated and coordinated care. The two-armed study "Continuum of care for frail elderly people" is a multi-professional and multidimensional intervention for frail community-dwelling elderly people. It was designed to evaluate whether the intervention programme for frail elderly people can reduce the number of visits to hospital, increase satisfaction with health and social care and maintain functional abilities. The implementation process is explored and analysed along with the intervention. In this paper we present the study design, the intervention and the outcome measures as well as the baseline characteristics of the study participants.
The study is a randomised two-armed controlled trial with follow ups at 3, 6 and 12 months. The study group includes elderly people who sought care at the emergency ward and discharged to their own homes in the community. Inclusion criteria were 80 years and older or 65 to 79 years with at least one chronic disease and dependent in at least one activity of daily living. Exclusion criteria were acute severely illness with an immediate need of the assessment and treatment by a physician, severe cognitive impairment and palliative care. The intention was that the study group should comprise a representative sample of frail elderly people at a high risk of future health care consumption. The intervention includes an early geriatric assessment, early family support, a case manager in the community with a multi-professional team and the involvement of the elderly people and their relatives in the planning process.
The design of the study, the randomisation procedure and the protocol meetings were intended to ensure the quality of the study. The implementation of the intervention programme is followed and analysed throughout the whole study, which enables us to generate knowledge on the process of implementing complex interventions. The intervention contributes to early recognition of both the elderly peoples' needs of information, care and rehabilitation and of informal caregivers' need of support and information. This study is expected to show positive effects on frail elderly peoples' health care consumption, functional abilities and satisfaction with health and social care.
A number of studies have examined the effects of home visits and showed inconsistent results on physical functioning, institutionalisation, and mortality. Despite continuing interest from professionals in home visits for older people, reports on older people’s needs and preferences for such visits are scarce.
This qualitative study aims to explore the views and needs of community-dwelling frail older people concerning home visits.
Design and setting
A qualitative study including interviews with frail older persons and their informal caregivers living in the area of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with frail older people and informal caregivers. A grounded theory approach was used for data-analysis.
Eleven frail older people and 11 informal caregivers were included. Most participants emphasised the importance of home visits for frail older people. They felt that it would give older people the personal attention they used to receive from GPs but miss nowadays. Most stated that this would give them more trust in GPs. Participants stated that trust is one of the most important factors in a good patient–professional relationship. Further, participants preferred home visits to focus on the psychosocial context of the patient. They stated that more knowledge of the psychosocial context and a good patient–professional relationship would enable the professional to provide better and more patient-centred care.
Patients’ expectations of home visits are quite different from the actual purpose of home visiting programmes; that is, care and wellbeing versus cure and prevention. This difference may partly explain why the effectiveness of home visits remains controversial. Future studies on home visits should involve patients in the development of home visiting programmes.
frail elderly; house calls; patient preference; primary health care
Objective To evaluate whether an interdisciplinary primary care approach for community dwelling frail older people is more effective than usual care in reducing disability and preventing (further) functional decline.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting 12 general practices in the south of the Netherlands
Participants 346 frail older people (score ≥5 on Groningen Frailty Indicator) were included; 270 (78%) completed the study.
Interventions General practices were randomised to the intervention or control group. Practices in the control group delivered care as usual. Practices in the intervention group implemented the “Prevention of Care” (PoC) approach, in which frail older people received a multidimensional assessment and interdisciplinary care based on a tailor made treatment plan and regular evaluation and follow-up.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was disability, assessed at 24 months by means of the Groningen Activity Restriction Scale. Secondary outcomes were depressive symptomatology, social support interactions, fear of falling, and social participation. Outcomes were measured at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 months’ follow-up.
Results 193 older people in the intervention group (six practices) received the PoC approach; 153 older people in the control group (six practices) received care as usual. Follow-up rates for patients were 91% (n=316) at six months, 86% (n=298) at 12 months, and 78% (n=270) at 24 months. Mixed model multilevel analyses showed no significant differences between the two groups with regard to disability (primary outcome) and secondary outcomes. Pre-planned subgroup analyses confirmed these results.
Conclusions This study found no evidence for the effectiveness of the PoC approach. The study contributes to the emerging body of evidence that community based care in frail older people is a challenging task. More research in this field is needed.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN31954692.
With increasing age and longevity, the rising number of frail elders with complex and numerous health-related needs demands a coordinated health care delivery system integrating cure, care and welfare. Studies on the effectiveness of such comprehensive chronic care models targeting frail elders show inconclusive results. The CareWell-primary care program is a complex intervention targeting community-dwelling frail elderly people, that aims to prevent functional decline, improve quality of life, and reduce or postpone hospital and nursing home admissions of community dwelling frail elderly.
The CareWell-primary care study includes a (cost-) effectiveness study and a comprehensive process evaluation. In a one-year pragmatic, cluster controlled trial, six general practices are non-randomly recruited to adopt the CareWell-primary care program and six control practices will deliver ‘care as usual’. Each practice includes a random sample of fifty frail elders aged 70 years or above in the cost-effectiveness study. A sample of patients and informal caregivers and all health care professionals participating in the CareWell-primary care program are included in the process evaluation. In the cost-effectiveness study, the primary outcome is the level of functional abilities as measured with the Katz-15 index. Hierarchical mixed-effects regression models / multilevel modeling approach will be used, since the study participants are nested within the general practices. Furthermore, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios will be calculated as costs per QALY gained and as costs weighed against functional abilities. In the process evaluation, mixed methods will be used to provide insight in the implementation degree of the program, patients’ and professionals’ approval of the program, and the barriers and facilitators to implementation.
The CareWell-primary care study will provide new insights into the (cost-) effectiveness, feasibility, and barriers and facilitators for implementation of this complex intervention in primary care.
The CareWell-primary care study is registered in the ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration System: NCT01499797
Frail elderly; Complex intervention; Integrated care; Functional status; Cost-effectiveness; Implementation; Process evaluation; Primary care
Interventions that enhance mobility in frail older people are needed to maintain health and independence, yet definitive evidence of effective interventions is lacking. Our objective was to assess the impact of a multifactorial intervention on mobility-related disability in frail older people.
We conducted a randomised, controlled trial with 241 frail community-dwelling older people in Sydney, Australia. Participants were classified as frail using the Cardiovascular Health Study definition, did not have severe cognitive impairment and were recently discharged from an aged care and rehabilitation service. The experimental group received a 12 month multifactorial, interdisciplinary intervention targeting identified frailty components. Two physiotherapists delivered a home exercise program targeting mobility, and coordinated management of psychological and medical conditions with other health professionals. The control group received usual care. Disability in the mobility domain was measured at baseline and at 3 and 12 months using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework. Participation (involvement in life situations) was assessed using the Life Space Assessment and the Goal Attainment Scale. Activity (execution of mobility tasks) was measured using the 4-metre walk and self-report measures.
The mean age of participants was 83.3 years (SD: 5.9 years). Of the participants recruited, 216 (90%) were followed-up at 12 months. At this time point, the intervention group had significantly better scores than the control group on the Goal Attainment Scale (odds ratio 2.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 3.3, P = 0.004) and Life Space Assessment (4.68 points, 95% CI 1.4 to 9.9, P = 0.005). There was no difference between groups on the global measure of participation or satisfaction with ability to get out of the house. At the activity level, the intervention group walked 0.05 m/s faster over 4 m (95% CI 0.0004 to 0.1, P = 0.048) than the control group, and scored higher on the Activity Measure for Post Acute Care (P < 0.001).
The intervention reduced mobility-related disability in frail older people. The benefit was evident at both the participation and activity levels of mobility-related disability.
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ANZCTRN12608000507381.
exercise; frail elderly; International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health; RCT
Frailty among older people is related to an increased risk of adverse health outcomes such as acute and chronic diseases, disability and mortality. Although many intervention studies for frail older people have been reported, only a few have shown positive effects regarding disability prevention. This article presents the design of a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of a primary care intervention that combines the most promising elements of disability prevention in community-dwelling frail older people.
In this study twelve general practitioner practices were randomly allocated to the intervention group (6 practices) or to the control group (6 practices). Three thousand four hundred ninety-eight screening questionnaires including the Groningen Frailty Indicator (GFI) were sent out to identify frail older people. Based on their GFI score (≥5), 360 participants will be included in the study. The intervention will receive an interdisciplinary primary care intervention. After a comprehensive assessment by a practice nurse and additional assessments by other professionals, if needed, an individual action plan will be defined. The action plan is related to a flexible toolbox of interventions, which will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team. Effects of the intervention, both for the frail older people and their informal caregivers, will be measured after 6, 12 and 24 months using postal questionnaires and telephone interviews. Data for the process evaluation and economic evaluation will be gathered continuously over a 24-month period.
The proposed study will provide information about the usefulness of an interdisciplinary primary care intervention. The postal screening procedure was conducted in two cycles between December 2009 and April 2010 and turned out to be a feasible method. The response rate was 79.7%. According to GFI scores 29.3% of the respondents can be considered as frail (GFI ≥ 5). Nearly half of them (48.1%) were willing to participate. The baseline measurements started in January 2010. In February 2010 the first older people were approached by the practice nurse for a comprehensive assessment. Data on the effect, process, and economic evaluation will be available in 2012.
Due to the ageing of the population, the number of frail older people who suffer from multiple, complex health complaints increases and this ultimately threatens their ability to function independently. Many interventions for frail older people attempt to prevent or delay functional decline, but they show contradicting results. Recent studies emphasise the importance of embedding these interventions into existing primary care systems and tailoring care to older people’s needs and wishes. This article presents the design of an evaluation study, aiming to investigate the effects and feasibility of the early detection of health problems among community-dwelling older people and their subsequent referral to appropriate care and/or well-being facilities by general practices.
A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study is designed comparing 13 intervention practices with 11 control practices. General practices select eligible community-dwelling older people (≥ 75 years). Practice nurses from intervention practices (1) visit older people at home for a comprehensive assessment of their health and well-being; (2) discuss results with the GP; (3) formulate – if required – a care and treatment plan together with the patient; (4) refer patient to care and/or well-being facilities; and (5) monitor and coordinate care and follow-up. Control practices provide usual care and match the intervention practices on the presence of different primary care professionals within the practice. Primary outcome measures are health-related quality of life and disability. Additionally, attitude towards ageing, care satisfaction, health care utilisation, nursing home admission and mortality are measured. Some outcomes are assessed by means of a postal questionnaire (at baseline and after 6, 12, and 18 months follow-up), others through continuous registration over the 18-month period. A profound process evaluation will provide insight into barriers and facilitators for implementing the intervention protocol within general practices from both the patient and caregiver perspective.
The proposed approach requires redesigning care delivery within general practices for accomplishing appropriate care for older people. A quasi-experimental design is chosen to closely resemble a real-life situation, which is desirable for future implementation after this innovation proves to be successful. Results of the effect and process evaluation will become available in 2013.
The Netherlands National Trial Register NTR2737
Frailty; Older people; Comprehensive geriatric assessment; Home visit; General practice; Quasi-experimental design
Care for older adults is facing a number of challenges: health problems are not consistently identified at a timely stage, older adults report a lack of autonomy in their care process, and care systems are often confronted with the need for better coordination between health care professionals. We aim to address these challenges by introducing the geriatric care model, based on the chronic care model, and to evaluate its effects on the quality of life of community-dwelling frail older adults.
In a 2-year stepped-wedge cluster randomised clinical trial with 6-monthly measurements, the chronic care model will be compared with usual care. The trial will be carried out among 35 primary care practices in two regions in the Netherlands. Per region, practices will be randomly allocated to four allocation arms designating the starting point of the intervention. Participants: 1200 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 or over and their primary informal caregivers. Primary care physicians will identify frail individuals based on a composite definition of frailty and a polypharmacy criterion. Final inclusion criterion: scoring 3 or more on a disability case-finding tool. Intervention: Every 6 months patients will receive a geriatric in-home assessment by a practice nurse, followed by a tailored care plan. Expert teams will manage and train practice nurses. Patients with complex care needs will be reviewed in interdisciplinary consultations. Evaluation: We will perform an effect evaluation, an economic evaluation, and a process evaluation. Primary outcome is quality of life as measured with the Short Form-12 questionnaire. Effect analyses will be based on the “intention-to-treat” principle, using multilevel regression analysis. Cost measurements will be administered continually during the study period. A cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-utility analysis will be conducted comparing mean total costs to functional status, care needs and QALYs. We will investigate the level of implementation, barriers and facilitators to successful implementation and the extent to which the intervention manages to achieve the transition necessary to overcome challenges in elderly care.
This is one of the first studies assessing the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and implementation process of the chronic care model for frail community-dwelling older adults.
The Netherlands National Trial Register NTR2160.
Chronic care model; Frailty; Elderly; Primary care; Stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled clinical trial
Frailty is highly prevalent in older people. Its serious adverse consequences, such as disability, are considered to be a public health problem. Therefore, disability prevention in community-dwelling frail older people is considered to be a priority for research and clinical practice in geriatric care. With regard to disability prevention, valid screening instruments are needed to identify frail older people in time. The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the psychometric properties of three screening instruments: the Groningen Frailty Indicator (GFI), the Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI) and the Sherbrooke Postal Questionnaire (SPQ). For validation purposes the Groningen Activity Restriction Scale (GARS) was added.
A questionnaire was sent to 687 community-dwelling older people (≥ 70 years). Agreement between instruments, internal consistency, and construct validity of instruments were evaluated and compared.
The response rate was 77%. Prevalence estimates of frailty ranged from 40% to 59%. The highest agreement was found between the GFI and the TFI (Cohen's kappa = 0.74). Cronbach's alpha for the GFI, the TFI and the SPQ was 0.73, 0.79 and 0.26, respectively. Scores on the three instruments correlated significantly with each other (GFI - TFI, r = 0.87; GFI - SPQ, r = 0.47; TFI - SPQ, r = 0.42) and with the GARS (GFI - GARS, r = 0.57; TFI - GARS, r = 0.61; SPQ - GARS, r = 0.46). The GFI and the TFI scores were, as expected, significantly related to age, sex, education and income.
The GFI and the TFI showed high internal consistency and construct validity in contrast to the SPQ. Based on these findings it is not yet possible to conclude whether the GFI or the TFI should be preferred; data on the predictive values of both instruments are needed. The SPQ seems less appropriate for postal screening of frailty among community-dwelling older people.
OBJECTIVE: To explore expressed needs, both formal and informal, of family caregivers of frail elderly. To evaluate roles of physicians. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey of members of the Montreal Jewish community providing care for frail elderly family members. SETTING: Jewish community of Montreal. PARTICIPANTS: Volunteer caregivers who were caring for a family member or friend 60 years or older, who had greatest responsibility for providing physical or emotional support to an elderly person, who saw themselves as caregivers, and who could speak English or French were studied. Of 118 volunteers, 32 were excluded because they withdrew for personal reasons or because they did not meet study criteria. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Demographic variables, functional status of the care receiver, use of home care services, and needs assessment to identify additional services. RESULTS: An average of 75.4% respondents did not use formal support services. Just under half of caregivers were dissatisfied with the attention they received from the health care system, and more than one third expressed feelings of stress, depression, guilt, and isolation. CONCLUSIONS: Hypotheses for this discontent are presented. Physicians may be uninterested in helping caregivers; even if they were receptive to counseling caregivers, they could be poorly remunerated for the types of counseling sessions that are usual for caregivers; and being a professional caregiver to family caregivers is demanding in itself.
Case management has been applied in community aged care to meet frail older people’s holistic needs and promote cost-effectiveness. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effects of case management in community aged care on client and carer outcomes.
We searched Web of Science, Scopus, Medline, CINAHL (EBSCO) and PsycINFO (CSA) from inception to 2011 July. Inclusion criteria were: no restriction on date, English language, community-dwelling older people and/or carers, case management in community aged care, published in refereed journals, randomized control trials (RCTs) or comparative observational studies, examining client or carer outcomes. Quality of studies was assessed by using such indicators as quality control, randomization, comparability, follow-up rate, dropout, blinding assessors, and intention-to-treat analysis. Two reviewers independently screened potentially relevant studies, extracted information and assessed study quality. A narrative summary of findings were presented.
Ten RCTs and five comparative observational studies were identified. One RCT was rated high quality. Client outcomes included mortality (7 studies), physical or cognitive functioning (6 studies), medical conditions (2 studies), behavioral problems (2 studies) , unmet service needs (3 studies), psychological health or well-being (7 studies) , and satisfaction with care (4 studies), while carer outcomes included stress or burden (6 studies), satisfaction with care (2 studies), psychological health or well-being (5 studies), and social consequences (such as social support and relationships with clients) (2 studies). Five of the seven studies reported that case management in community aged care interventions significantly improved psychological health or well-being in the intervention group, while all the three studies consistently reported fewer unmet service needs among the intervention participants. In contrast, available studies reported mixed results regarding client physical or cognitive functioning and carer stress or burden. There was also limited evidence indicating significant effects of the interventions on the other client and carer outcomes as described above.
Available evidence showed that case management in community aged care can improve client psychological health or well-being and unmet service needs. Future studies should investigate what specific components of case management are crucial in improving clients and their carers’ outcomes.
Case management; Community aged care; Effects; Systematic review
The demands and consequences of caregiving are considerable. However, such outcomes are not commonly investigated in the evaluation of interventions targeting frailty. This study aims to explore family carers’ reactions to caregiving during an intervention targeting frailty in community living older people.
A study of carers (n=119) embedded in a 12 month randomised controlled intervention targeting frailty in people 70 years or older, compared to usual care. Reactions to caregiving were measured in the domains of health, finance, self-esteem, family support and daily schedule. Anxiety and depression levels were also evaluated. Carer outcomes were measured at baseline, 6 months and 12 months and at 3 months post frailty intervention.
Carers of frail older people in the intervention group showed a sustained improvement in health scores during the intervention targeting frailty, while health scores for carers of the frail older people in the control group, decreased and therefore their health worsened (F=2.956, p=0.034). The carers of the frail older people in the intervention group reported overall better health (F=5.303, p=0.023) and self-esteem (F=4.158, p=0.044), and co-resident carers reported higher self-esteem (F=4.088, p=0.046). Anxiety levels increased for carers in both intervention and control groups (F=2.819, p=0.04).
The inclusion of carers in trials targeting frail older people may assist in the identification of at-risk carers and facilitate the provision of information and support that will assist them to continue providing care. Further research that explores the features of frailty interventions that impact on the caregiving experience is recommended.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12608000565347
Carers; Frailty; Caregiving; Older persons; Assessment
Frailty is a common syndrome that is associated with vulnerability to poor health outcomes. Frail older people have increased risk of morbidity, institutionalization and death, resulting in burden to individuals, their families, health care services and society. Assessment and treatment of the frail individual provide many challenges to clinicians working with older people. Despite frailty being increasingly recognized in the literature, there is a paucity of direct evidence to guide interventions to reduce frailty. In this paper we review methods for identification of frailty in the clinical setting, propose a model for assessment of the frail older person and summarize the current best evidence for treating the frail older person. We provide an evidence-based framework that can be used to guide the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of frail older people.
PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED: Given the complex needs of frail older people and the multiplicity of care providers and services, care for this clientele lacks continuity. OBJECTIVE OF PROGRAM: Integrated service delivery (ISD) systems have been developed to improve continuity and increase the efficacy and efficiency of services. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The Program of Research to Integrate Services for the Maintenance of Autonomy (PRISMA) is an innovative ISD model based on coordination. It includes coordination between decision makers and managers of different organizations and services; a single entry point; a case-management process; individualized service plans; a single assessment instrument based on clients' functional autonomy, coupled with a case-mix classification system; and a computerized clinical chart for communicating between institutions and professionals for client monitoring. CONCLUSION: Preliminary results on the efficacy of this model showed a decreased incidence of functional decline, a decreased burden for caregivers, and a smaller proportion of older people wishing to enter institutions.
There is convincing evidence about the benefits of exercise training in community dwelling frailer older people, but little evidence that this intervention can be delivered in general practice. In this prospective cohort study in 14 general practices in north London we assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of a tailored exercise referral programme for frail elderly patients delivered within a variety of inner city primary care settings. One hundred and twenty-six women and 32 men aged 75 years and older, deemed borderline frail by their GPs, took part in a two-phase progressive exercise programme (Stage 1 — primary care setting; Stage II — leisure/community centre setting) using the Timed Up And Go (TUG) test as the primary outcome measure. Baseline TUG measures confirmed that the participants were borderline frail and that GP selection was accurate. Of those referred by their GP or practice nurse 89% took up the exercise programme; 73% completed Stage I and 63% made the transition to the community Stage II programme. TUG improved in Stage I with a mean difference of 3.5 seconds (P<0.001). An individually tailored progressive exercise programme following GP referral, delivered in weekly group sessions by specialist exercise instructors within general practices, was effective in achieving participation in exercise sessions and in improving TUG values in a significant number of frailer older citizens.
exercise; general practice; older people
Society is facing a growing number of older people. With the increase of older people an increase in number of frail persons is expected. But will the increase in number of frail persons parallel the increase of the number of older adults? Or are the features of older adults changing in time and are these changes reducing or amplifying the increase of frail older adults?
To present the differences in prevalence of frail older persons in 1998 and in 2008 and the influence of socio-demographic and health features on the difference between these two cohorts.
The data were collected in the context of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). For this particular study we selected community dwelling respondents aged 65–88 years who had complete data in 1995 or 2008. Frailty was composed out of seven markers: BMI, cognitive functioning, grip strength, tiredness, vision and hearing problems and physical activity. Two cohorts, 1998 and 2008, were compared and the relative numbers of frail older adults in both cohorts were calculated. Next the association of different socio-demographic and health features with frailty was examined.
Preliminary results show a decrease in the prevalence of frail older adults from 18.5% in 1998 to 9.9% in 2008. The prevalence of frail people in 2008 for all age groups decreased compared to 1995 but in particular for the youngest age groups. In addition, the decrease in frail women is more amplified than in men. For all the markers used in defining frailty an improvement is seen for the population in 2008. Multivariate analyses will show in what degree cohort differences in frailty are related to cohort differences in education, income, co-morbidity, partner status, social network, mastery, alcohol use and smoking.
The prevalence of frail elderly in 2008 has declined compared to 1998. This can be explained by improvements in all markers of frailty. Analyses (yet to be completed) will show the influence of socio-demographic and health features.
frail older persons; prevalence; influence of socio-demographic and health features; markers
If brief and easy to use self report screening tools are available to identify frail elderly, this may avoid costs and unnecessary assessment of healthy people. This study investigates the predictive validity of three self-report instruments for identifying community-dwelling frail elderly.
This is a prospective study with 1-year follow-up among community-dwelling elderly aged 70 or older (n = 430) to test sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predicted values of the Groningen Frailty Indicator, Tilburg Frailty Indicator and Sherbrooke Postal Questionnaire on development of disabilities, hospital admission and mortality. Odds ratios were calculated to compare frail versus non-frail groups for their risk for the adverse outcomes.
Adjusted odds ratios show that those identified as frail have more than twice the risk (GFI, 2.62; TFI, 2.00; SPQ, 2,49) for developing disabilities compared to the non-frail group; those identified as frail by the TFI and SPQ have more than twice the risk of being admitted to a hospital. Sensitivity and specificity for development of disabilities are 71% and 63% (GFI), 62% and 71% (TFI) and 83% and 48% (SPQ). Regarding mortality, sensitivity for all tools are about 70% and specificity between 41% and 61%. For hospital admission, SPQ scores the highest for sensitivity (76%).
All three instruments do have potential to identify older persons at risk, but their predictive power is not sufficient yet. Further research on these and other instruments is needed to improve targeting frail elderly.
The Netherlands Organisation of Health Research and Development (ZonMw) has launched the ambitious National Care for the Elderly Programme to improve care and support for frail elderly persons. This four years programme (2008–2011) is initiated by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The budget is 80 million euro.
The programme consists of three steps. First, regional networks were formed consisting of all parties that can contribute to the organisation of care and support for frail elderly persons. Second, innovative experiments were formed within these networks. These experiments focus on a reorganisation and integration of care and support and are formally evaluated. They should lead to added value for elderly people, in terms of greater self-reliance, better retention of function, and reduced care use and treatment burden. The third step is dissemination and implementation of knowledge.
Eight networks are formed and continue to grow. These networks developed 13 experiments on the following topics: screening of frailty, reactivation after hospitalisation, improvement of primary care, integrated care, and new information systems. More experiments will follow.
We aim for better integrated care and added value for frail elderly persons through formation of networks and experiments. Whether this approach works is still to be tested.
frailty; elderly people; networks; Netherlands
Frail elderly people represent a major patient group in family practice. Little is known about the patients’ needs, and how their needs evolve over time with increasing frailty towards the end of life. This study will address end-of-life care needs, service utilisation, and experiences of frail elderly patients and their informal caregivers, with regard to family practice. This paper aims to introduce the research protocol.
The study uses a multiple perspective approach qualitative design. The first study part consists of serial six-monthly in-depth interviews with 30 community-dwelling elderly patients (≥70 years) with moderate to severe frailty and their key informal caregivers, over a period of 18 months. Additionally, semi-structured interviews with the patients’ family physician will be conducted. The serial interviews will be analysed with grounded theory and narrative approaches. Special attention will be paid to the comparison of distinct views of the patients’, informal caregivers’, and family physicians’ as well as on chronological aspects. In the second study part, five focus groups with experts in family medicine, geriatrics, palliative medicine, and nursing will be conducted. Finally, the implications for family practice and health care policy will be discussed in an expert workshop.
To our knowledge, this is the first prospective, longitudinal qualitative study on the needs of elderly patients with advanced frailty towards the end of life in German family practice, which integrates the perspectives of patients, informal caregivers, family physicians and other health professionals. The study will contribute to the understanding of the clinical, psychosocial and information needs of patients and their caregivers, and of respective changes of experiences and needs along the illness/frailty trajectory including the last phase of life. It will provide an empirical basis for improving patient-centred care for this increasingly relevant target group.
Frailty; Elderly patients; Informal caregivers; Family medicine; End-of-life care; Palliative care; Longitudinal qualitative study; Multiple perspectives; Needs; Health services research
The PRISMA study analyzes an innovative coordination-type integrated service delivery (ISD) system developed to improve continuity and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of services, especially for older and disabled populations. The objective of the PRISMA study is to evaluate the effectiveness of this system to improve health, empowerment and satisfaction of frail older people, modify their health and social services utilization, without increasing the burden of informal caregivers. The objective of this paper is to present the methodology and give baseline data on the study participants.
A quasi-experimental study with pre-test, multiple post-tests, and a comparison group was used to evaluate the impact of PRISMA ISD. Elders at risk of functional decline (501 experimental, 419 control) participated in the study.
At entry, the two groups were comparable for most variables. Over the first year, when the implementation rate was low (32%), participants from the control group used fewer services than those from the experimental group. After the first year, no significant statistical difference was observed for functional decline and changes in the other outcome variables.
This first year must be considered a baseline year, showing the situation without significant implementation of PRISMA ISD systems. Results for the following years will have to be examined with consideration of these baseline results.
health services for the aged; integrated service delivery systems; frail elderly; program evaluation
The number of frail elderly people is increasing. Unfortunately, the number of caregivers is not increasing at the same pace, which affects older people, caregivers and healthcare systems. Because of these developments, self-management is becoming more important in healthcare. To support community-dwelling elderly people in their self-management, a system was developed that monitors their physical functioning. This system provides feedback to elderly people and their caregivers regarding physical indicators of frailty. The feedback is provided to elderly people via the screen of a mobile phone. It is important that elderly people understand the content of the feedback and are able to use the mobile phone properly. If not, it is unlikely that the system can support self-management. Many interactive health technologies that have been developed do not fulfil their promises. An important reason for this is that human and other non-technology issues are not sufficiently taken into consideration during the development process.
To collaborate with elderly people during the development and evaluation of a feedback system for community-dwelling elderly people regarding physical functioning.
An iterative user-centered design that consists of five phases was used to develop and evaluate the feedback system. These five phases were: 1) Selection of users, 2) Analysis of users and their context, 3) Identification of user needs, 4) Development of a prototype, and 5) Evaluation of the prototype. Three representatives of a target group panel for elderly people were selected in phase 1. They shared their needs and preferences during three expert group meetings that took place during the development process. This resulted in the development of a prototype which was first evaluated in a heuristic evaluation. Once adjustments were made, 11 elderly people evaluated the adjusted prototype using a think aloud procedure. They rated the usability and acceptability of the developed interface on a scale from 1 till 7 using an adapted version of the Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ).
A feedback system was developed that provides feedback regarding physical indicators of frailty via a touch screen mobile phone. The interface uses colours, smiley’s, and spoken/written messages to provide feedback that is easy to understand. The heuristic evaluation revealed that there were some problems with consistency and the use of user language. The think aloud evaluation showed that the 11 elderly people were able to navigate through the interface without much difficulty despite some small problems related to the lay-out of the interface. The mean score on an adapted version of the PSSUQ was 5.90 (SD 1.09) which indicates high user satisfaction and good usability.
The involvement of end-users significantly influenced the lay-out of the interface that was developed. This resulted in an interface that was accepted by the target group. Evaluation of the prototype revealed that the usability of the interface was good. The feedback system will only succeed in supporting self-management when elderly people are able to use the interface and understand the feedback. The input of elderly people during the development process contributed to this.
user-centered design; elderly people; self management; physical functioning, usability
Many frail or disabled elderly people are now being maintained in the community, partially at least as a consequence of the Community Care Act 1993. This paper details the work of the major health professionals who are involved in caring for older people in the community and describes how to access nursing, palliative care, continence, mental health, Hospital at Home, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, equipment, and optical, dental, and dietetic services. In many areas, services are evolving to meet needs and some examples of innovative practice are included.
To evaluate the effectiveness of home visiting programmes that offer health promotion and preventive care to older people.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 studies of home visiting.
Older people living at home, including frail older people at risk of adverse outcomes.
Mortality, admission to hospital, admission to institutional care, functional status, health status.
Home visiting was associated with a significant reduction in mortality. The pooled odds ratio for eight studies that assessed mortality in members of the general elderly population was 0.76 (95% confidence interval 0.64 to 0.89). Five studies of home visiting to frail older people who were at risk of adverse outcomes also showed a significant reduction in mortality (0.72; 0.54 to 0.97). Home visiting was associated with a significant reduction in admissions to long term care in members of the general elderly population (0.65; 0.46 to 0.91). For three studies of home visiting to frail, “at risk” older people, the pooled odds ratio was 0.55 (0.35 to 0.88). Meta-analysis of six studies of home visiting to members of the general elderly population showed no significant reduction in admissions to hospital (odds ratio 0.95; 0.80 to 1.09). Three studies showed no significant effect on health (standardised effect size 0.06; –0.07 to 0.18). Four studies showed no effect on activities of daily living (0.05; –0.07 to 0.17).
Home visits to older people can reduce mortality and admission to long term institutional care.
What is already known on this topicThe benefits of regular, preventive home visits to older people are the subject of controversyA recent systematic review found no clear evidence that preventive home visits were effectiveWhat this study addsThis meta-analysis of 15 trials shows that home visiting can reduce mortality and admission to institutional care among older people
Telesurveillance is a technologically based modality that allows the surveillance of patients in the natural setting, mainly home. It is based on communication technologies to relay information between a patient and a central call center where services are coordinated. Different types of telesurveillance systems have been implemented, some being staffed with non-health professionals and others with health professional, mainly nurses. Up to now, only telesurveillance services staffed with non-health professionals have been shown to be effective and efficient. The objective of this study was to document outcomes and cost evolution of a nurse-staffed telesurveillance system for frail elderly living at home.
A quasi experimental design over a nine-month period was done. Patients (n = 38) and caregivers (n = 38) were selected by health professionals from two local community health centers. To be eligible, elders had to be over 65, live at home with a permanent physical, slight cognitive or motor disability or both and have a close relative (the caregiver) willing to participate to the study. These disabilities had to hinder the accomplishment of daily life activities deemed essential to continue living at home safely. Three data sources were used: patient files, telesurveillance center's quarterly reports and personal questionnaires (Modified Mini-Mental State, Functional Autonomy Measurement System, Life Event Checklist, SF-12, Life-H, Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology, Caregiver Burden). The telesurveillance technology permitted, among various functionalities, bi-directional communication (speaker-receiver) between the patient and the response center.
A total of 957 calls for 38 registered clients over a 6-month period was recorded. Only 48 (5.0%) of the calls were health-related. No change was reported in the elders' quality of life and daily activity abilities. Satisfaction was very high. Caregivers' psychological burden decreased substantially. On a 3 months period, length of hospital stays dropped from 13 to 4 days, and home care services decreased from 18 to 10 visits/client. Total cost of health and social public services used per client dropped by 17% after the first 3 months and by 39% in the second 3 months.
The ratio of 0.50 calls per client to the call center for health events is three times higher than that reported in the literature. This difference is probably attributable to the fact that nurses rather than non-health professional personnel were available to answer the clients' questions about their health and medications. Cost evolution showed that registering older adults at a telesurveillance center staffed by nurses, upon a health professional recommendation, costs the health care system less and does not have any negative effects on the well-being of the individuals and their families. Telesurveillance for the elderly is effective and efficient.