Dean On Campus Blog

Renewed funding for research in frailty

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.”

Please share your thoughts by commenting on the blog, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.




6 Responses to Renewed funding for research in frailty

  1. Sheila Pinchin says:

    Dean Reznick, thanks for posting about this initiative! I (like so many) am living the first sentence of your blog; elder-friendly models of care in hospital and in community are very necessary. I’m so glad to see that this grant will assist in increasing the number of almost 550 students who will develop skills to work with the elderly. Recently, my son was delivering some food to his grandparents and came home to tell us “I’ve just seen my future…” 🙂 He was teasing but I know that we who are near to being elderly ourselves and those who will be caring for us, also need the support of the results of grants such as this.

    • reznickr says:

      Drar Sheila,

      Thanks so much for your comment. We are indeed all living this reality. So many of our loved ones are increasingly reaching old age and many meet the criteria for being frail. We are just starting to understand how to proactively address the multitude of issues. Queen’s is very excited to be hosting this important national work.


  2. Sandra Ballantyne says:

    This was very interesting to read, especially considering how we educate future health care professionals to work within community settings. (Please check your statistic that 100 million Canadians are medically frail.)

    • Richard Reznick says:

      Thank you for your comment Sandra, and for your correction. I have updated the blog with the correct number!


  3. Thomas F Draper MD, MPH says:

    I look forward with great interest to the studies on the growing frail population in Canada as I retire myself in July of this year from my post as Director of Community Medicine at the Community Health Center of Greater Danbury (Ct.)
    Thomas F Draper Meds’55

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Dr. Draper,

      Thanks so much for your comment. CFN is doing great work, and hosting a $23M National Centre of Excellence is a great thing for Queen’s. Congratulations on your retirement.


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