Living with frailty
Below is a description of the way the NHS currently looks after people (in this case an imaginary woman called 'Maureen') who are very frail, and a broad outline of how this could change in future. The description only gives you a general picture of the future - exactly how the NHS will change is not yet decided, and that is where you can help.
As you read the text below, please think to yourself: are there any changes you strongly want to see? Do you have any particular concerns? Is there anything that you feel is missing? Then please click the link at the bottom of the page to quickly tell us your thoughts.
The NHS now:
Maureen is in her late 80s, and her life is increasingly difficult because of her failing health. She frequently needs to contact her local GP surgery, and has been into hospital four times in the last year. During those times she has faced frustrating delays before getting home again, because extra support had to be arranged first.
Maureen sometimes falls over, and can’t always get back up again. Her husband George is keen to help, but he is also quite frail, and increasingly anxious about how they can both manage.
It feels as if Maureen is spending more and more time seeing doctors and nurses at her practice, and home visits are happening more often. Life feels dominated by her poor health. She is often referred to other NHS teams for treatment and tests, and now takes more than a dozen different medicines, often several times a day.
The NHS in the future:
The NHS should build stronger teams of staff working in the community, whose focus is on keeping people like Maureen as healthy and independent as possible – and out of hospital if possible. This means planning her care in advance - talking with her, and her husband George, about her condition so that decisions about her care are made in advance, not as a hasty response to a crisis.
That stronger team could include a GP, nurses, healthcare assistants and therapists, ambulance staff, pharmacists and social services staff too. They could all involve Maureen and George in discussions about housing, medicines, treatment, and making plans if she fell over again, or became more poorly.
Hospital staff could be involved too, so that if Maureen does need to go into hospital – and when she is well enough to go back home again – the staff there know her full history, and are already in touch with other professionals who have regular contact with Maureen, and know the plans which have been agreed for her care.
What do we need to know before this broad outline starts to turn into specific plans?
Please click here to tell us.