Fighting Frailty with People Power

Researchers from the University of Leeds and University of Manchester, in partnership with Age UK, have received £2.7 million of funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

The funding will support the development and testing of a new type of care which aims to improve the quality of life for older people with frailty by giving them choice and control over decisions about their own health and wellbeing.

The new type of care, called personalised care planning, is designed to improve self-management skills and help older people with frailty to improve their wellbeing and thrive with the support of their community. This approach also aims to improve coordination of GP, voluntary sector and social care services and increase the social networks of older people with frailty.

The overall aim of this five year research programme is to find out whether personalised care planning improves quality of life for older people living with frailty, and is cost-effective. The team plan to identify which people should receive personalised care planning by studying how quality of life and use of health and social care services changes as frailty develops. They will also study the existing Age UK Personalised Integrated Care Service, designed to provide person-centred care planning for older people, to see how it might be improved, in preparation for a large trial to test effectiveness, involving 2,000 older people across Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The lead researcher, Dr Andrew Clegg, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Geriatrician at the Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation (AUECR), University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Hospitals said: "We are very excited about this major project to improve the lives of older people. Our close partnership with Age UK has ensured a truly person-centred approach that will focus on the individual priorities of older people living with frailty, including measuring quality of life as our main outcome of importance. We will also collect detailed information on use of health and social services, so the work is of considerable importance for older people, their families, the NHS, and social care."

The research, which is to commence immediately, is due to complete in January 2023.

The Research team is led by Dr Clegg and Professor John Young at the AUECR, and includes experts from the Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) at Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research (LICTR), the Academic Unit of Health Economics at the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS), the Academic Unit of Primary Care at LIHS, and the University of Leeds School of Psychology, who are working in partnership with Age UK, the University of Manchester, a GP representative from Bradford District and City Clinical Commissioning Groups, TPP and members of the public.