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Frailty: an in-depth qualitative study exploring the views of community care staff.

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Coker, JF 
Martin, ME 
Simpson, RM 


BACKGROUND: Frailty is seen across various health and social care settings. However, little is known about how healthcare professionals, particularly those who provide care for older adults living in the community view frailty. There is also a dearth of information about the extent to which a shared understanding of frailty exists across the various disciplines of care. Such an understanding is crucial across care professionals as it ensures consistent assessment of frailty and facilitates interdisciplinary working/collaboration which is a key component in the management of frailty. This study aimed to explore: (i) how community care staff from various specialties viewed frailty; (ii) whether they had a shared understanding; and (iii) how they assessed frailty in everyday practice. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 22 community care staff from seven specialties, namely: healthcare assistants, therapy assistants, psychiatric nurses, general nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers, recruited from four neighbourhood teams across Cambridgeshire, England. Interviews were analysed thematically. RESULTS: There was a shared narrative among participants that frailty is an umbrella term that encompasses interacting physical, mental health and psychological, social, environmental, and economic factors. However, various specialities emphasised the role of specific facets of the frailty umbrella. The assessment and management of frailty was said to require a holistic approach facilitated by interdisciplinary working. Participants voiced a need for interdisciplinary training on frailty, and frailty tools that facilitate peer-learning, a shared understanding of frailty, and consistent assessment of frailty within and across specialities. CONCLUSIONS: These findings underscore the need to: (i) move beyond biomedical descriptions of frailty; (ii) further explore the interacting nature of the various components of the frailty umbrella, particularly the role of modifiable factors such as psychological and socioeconomic resilience; (iii) care for frail older adults using holistic, interdisciplinary approaches; and (iv) promote interdisciplinary training around frailty and frailty tools to facilitate a shared understanding and consistent assessment of frailty within and across specialities.



Community care, Frailty, Healthcare professionals, Older adults, Qualitative research, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Attitude of Health Personnel, Community Health Centers, Female, Frail Elderly, Frailty, Health Personnel, Humans, Male, Qualitative Research, Surveys and Questionnaires

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BMC Geriatr

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC