In June 2023, the PHN launched an early intervention pilot program for General Practices to participate in a frailty screening program using the FRAIL Scale, a validated screening tool.
Frailty is a common syndrome which occurs due to a combination of de-conditioning and acute illness on a background of existing functional decline that is often under recognised.
Frailty is more common in females with the risk increasing with age. People with frailty have two to three times the health care utilisation of non-frail people and experience higher morbidity and lower quality of life.
However, while frailty is linked with ageing, the two do not have to go hand-in-hand. Many causes of frailty can be managed and - in some cases reversed - to create better health outcomes and quality of life.
By supporting general practices to confidently screen for and manage pre-frailty and frailty, the program seeks to reduce hospitalisations and support pre-frail and frail patients to live independently at home for longer.
Incentive payments were provided to enable staff to participate in training workshops and regular meetings with frailty experts, to enhance their understanding of frailty identification and opportunities and referral options to change the frailty trajectory, enabling them to provide better patient care in conjunction with other medical and allied health professionals.
Participating practices report frailty scores and referral information to the PHN to provide insights into the interventions used and to inform future activities. This data will also inform the (optional) quality improvement audit that practices can complete at the conclusion of the program in March 2024.
19 practices across the region are currently participating in the nine-month frailty screening program.