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JFSF Vol 6, No 1, March 2021, p.1-8

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-06-001

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Original Article

Managing frailty in an Irish primary care setting: A qualitative study of perspectives of healthcare professionals and frail older patients

Fiona Kennedy1, Rose Galvin2, N. Frances Horgan3

  1. Meath Primary Care Services, Community Health Organisation (CHO) 8, Health Service Executive (HSE), Ireland
  2. School of Allied Health, University of Limerick (UL), Ireland
  3. School of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Ireland

Keywords: Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment, Frailty, Ireland, Primary Care, Screening


Abstract

Objectives: Little is known about the views of key stakeholders on frailty in Primary Care in Ireland. The aim of this study was to explore the views of Irish healthcare professionals and patients on frailty and its management in Primary Care. Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used. Seventeen healthcare professionals and three patients were recruited using purposive sampling. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews which were analysed thematically. Results: Three themes were identified: (i) Perceptions of Frailty (ii) Current Management of Frailty and (iii) Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in Primary Care. The results demonstrated variability in perspectives on frailty. Healthcare professionals described a fragmented service often delivering substandard care to frail older patients. The general consensus was that frailty management required an adequately resourced Primary Care service. Support for frailty screening and Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment was evident while the suitability of the current pathway for patients requiring assessment was questioned. Conclusion: This study highlights an absence of a shared and complete understanding of frailty among healthcare professionals and a fragmented model of care for community-dwelling frail older patients. Based on these findings, inter-professional training, investment in Primary Care, the development of a frailty pathway and an interface service is recommended.