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A conference which took place in the North East has showcased a number of innovative new approaches to improving the health and care of frail older people.

Over 300 professionals in the field of care for older people attended the North East Frailty Summit held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead this month.

With around 57,400 people in the North East and North Cumbria region considered frail, the conference gave delegates the opportunity to learn about a number of successful care models and initiatives specifically designed to improve the care of older people and reduce their admission to hospital.

Organised by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) and the Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Care Home Vanguard, the one-day conference attracted speakers from NHS England, the University of Leeds and CCGs across the North East.

Associate Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Person-Centred Care at NHS England, Dr Dawn Moody, gave insight into a number of approaches that could help care professionals to identify and understand the dynamics of frailty, while also underlining the importance of data driven care as a solution to the growing concerns raised by an ageing and frail population.

Dr Moody said: “Developing a better understanding of what frailty looks like across our populations can have a very positive impact on how we design our services to deliver integrated and person-centred care.

“We have a wealth of data that is out there waiting to be used – offering a unique opportunity to enable healthcare professionals to become more proactive in the care that we deliver.”

Showcasing projects within the region, speakers from Newcastle Gateshead, North Tyneside and Sunderland CCGs presented a variety of approaches to delivering health services to older people living with frailty – all with the overall aim of improving well-being of the patient and offering a more proactive way of working with older people to improve quality of life and help prevent their frailty from progressing.

Director of Transformation at NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG, Dr Dan Cowie, acknowledged that some existing models of care do not suit individuals with complex needs and described how a new approach taking place in the Newcastle Gateshead CCG could transform care of frail older people by placing them at the centre of the decision making process.

Dr Cowie said: “We need to establish a standardised but personalised type of care model that enhances healthcare within the entire community and that is accessible to all – a model that creates value for the NHS and care providers.”

Delegates at the event were also invited to participate in a number of workshops centred on specific approaches to the improvement of health and social care services for frail elderly patients. The summit also displayed around 50 poster extracts showcasing initiatives set up to help improve care for frail older people in the North East and North Cumbria.

Medical Director at the AHSN NENC, Professor Oliver James, said: “The Frailty Summit was a refreshing opportunity to engage with healthcare professionals who are actively making a difference to the way older people are being treated in the health and social care system.

“The popularity of the event proved that frail elderly care in our region is a key talking point and something that is likely to remain high on the agenda of the North East’s NHS for years to come as we experience the pressures of a growing, ageing population.”

For more information on the AHSN NENC’s Frail Elderly programme and the projects it supports in the region, visit: http://www.ahsn-nenc.org.uk/programmes/elderly-care/

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