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Action Group A3: Prevention of functional decline and frailty


The Action Group partners produced an Action Plan  PDF icon 1.8 MB (p.m. the deliverables  PDF icon 542 KB ) dealing with specific issues: the need for a better methodology for the screening and identification of pre-frail status in older patients; prevention of malnutrition or lack of physical activity that impact the frailty syndrome; evidence-based interventions through appropriate pathways of care to avoid incident frailty, its progression to disability and its consequences; development of basic research on different aspects of frailty, cognitive decline, malnutrition and the quality of life of frail elderly and their carers.

The main strands of work the Group pursues are:
1. Management of frailty and functional decline: interventions to improve the well-being of elderly through the physical exercise programs, nutrition plans, information and awareness activities, for elderly and their carers.
2. Enhancement of participation and independence of elderly: detecting social isolation, connecting them with their local community, promoting the involvement of the voluntary sector and providing peer support.
3. Systematic screening to detect frailty at an early stage.
4. Integrate pathways to improve the effectiveness and reliability of coordinated interventions between health and social cares, and spreading integrated delivery models across regions.
5. Further develop research and methodology to understand frailty and to support innovative approaches to organisation of services and develop new solutions.
6. Support the sustainability of health and social care services by improving their effectiveness, accessibility, cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness.
7. Cooperation at European level and among different actors to strengthen the knowledge and the interdisciplinary approach to frailty.


Preliminary achievements

In almost 2 years of collaboration the partners have contributed to establish a common European approach that aims at enhancing the quality of life of citizens and the dignity of older people whilst rationalising the use of public resources. Although the activities are still in the early stage, the Group already achieved some results, such as:
- A more comprehensive and clear understanding of frailty and its priorities. The exchange of knowledge and expertise among partners has resulted in the identification of clear benchmark on 6 main areas of intervention: frailty in general, physical decline, cognitive decline, nutrition, dependency and care givers, physical exercise ( Booklet of Good practices  PDF icon 3.4 MB ).
- Contribution to the policy debate at EU level, providing technical inputs to the European Commission on frailty and functional decline in particular through the international conference on Frailty in April 2013.
- More reliable trials. Many partners had the opportunity to test their protocols and tools in broader settings, allowing strengthening the reliability of both protocols and tools.
- Shaping a new module for screening, treatment and monitoring of frailty and functional decline.
- A more suitable training offer for healthcare professionals. Different Group members have proposed improved training courses for nurses, social workers and Phd students on frailty topics.