What are the implications of a frail 90-year-old living at home? How will our healthcare system cope with an aging population that is estimated to grow by 30% in the coming years? What is frailty and how do we identify it?
These are important questions –the answers to which will have an impact on all of us at some point in our lives, whether for ourselves or our loved ones. And these questions are at the heart of the work of the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN). Hosted by Queen’s, the CFN, formerly known as Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network (TECH VALUE NET), was established to improve health care for an aging population and position Canada as a global leader in providing the highest quality of care for the seriously ill elderly. Led by Scientific Director Dr. John Mescedere, the network supports original research and helps train the next generation of health care professionals and scientists to improve outcomes for older Canadians across all settings of care.
This past week the CFN celebrated a major milestone. The network received a renewal of its funding from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. Launched in May 2012, CFN will receive $23.9 million in renewal funding for the next five years, matched by $30 million in contributions from 150 partners. With the support of the NCE program, CFN brings together the collective expertise, knowledge, and talent in Canadian health-care research from experts, stakeholders, partners and network members across the country.
Over the past five years, CFN has had a number of successes, including a national partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and Mount Sinai Hospital, which implemented elder-friendly models of care in 17 hospitals in Canada. To date, nearly 550 young scholars, students and trainees have developed enhanced specialized skills and knowledge through CFN. And across Alberta, a study testing out a screening policy for frailty has been rolled out.
The timing of CFN’s ongoing work couldn’t be more pertinent; there are now more Canadians over the age of 65 than under the age of 151, and more than 1 million Canadians who are medically frail. For this second term, CFN will prioritize standardizing how frailty is identified and measured in various care settings while continuing to build evidence on frailty to help health care professionals to make better decisions – ultimately leading to better care for patients.
“Implementing standardized ways to identify and measure frailty will support comparisons between jurisdictions and identify variations in care, outcomes and healthcare resource utilization,” says Dr. Muscedere. “This can increase value from healthcare resources by avoiding under use and overuse of care. Informed by evidence, our goal is the right care, delivered in the right setting, as determined by older frail individuals with their families and caregivers.”
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