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NHS Fife’s groundbreaking approach to managing frail patients has been showcased at an event in Dunfermline.

The evolution of the frailty assessment service, which operates at the front door of the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, and is the first of its kind in Scotland, has garnered critical acclaim and brought the health board’s efforts to national attention. 

The patient-centred service, which is part of a wider redesign of acute care, brings together dedicated geriatric consultants, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers, who work closely with each other to identify frailty at the earliest possible opportunity and ensure patients are assessed and treated in the most appropriate setting. The frailty assessment team also meets twice a day in the hospital to consider the progress, best location for patients and the care they are receiving.

The evolution of the frailty assessment service and its success in bringing together healthcare providers and social workers has generated interest from health boards across the country. Taking place at the Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline (Thursday 17 March 2016), ‘Managing Frailty the Fife Way’ provided an opportunity for NHS Fife to showcase its approach to frailty management and included presentations from some of the staff members that have been central to the changes.

Commenting, NHS Fife Chief Operating Officer for Acute Services, Professor Scott McLean, said:

“The conference in Dunfermline provided an excellent platform to showcase what we are doing differently in Fife, and outline the positive differences these changes are making to the experiences of both patients and staff.

“As people continue to live longer, the NHS across Scotland will care for far greater numbers of elderly patients, many of whom will be affected by frailty. As a health board, we recognise that as the makeup of the population changes we will also have to evolve the services we provide.

“Patients regularly tell us they would prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own home or within their own community. By health working in close partnership with colleagues in social care we are often able to discharge patients to such a setting at the earliest opportunity. However, it is important to emphasise that a pathway to early discharge would only be pursued if it is deemed in the patients best interest and this is not simply an attempt to avoid admission into hospital.

“Ultimately, the landscape of healthcare provision is changing and for us to continue providing the best possible experiences for our patients it is important that we both recognise where we need to evolve and take steps to adapt and improve where we can.”