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Focusing on frailty

Queen’s based Canadian Frailty Network receives renewal funding of $23.9 million.

  • John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO, Canadian Frailty Network, talks about the work by the internationally-recognized research network that is focused on improving health care for an aging population. (University Communications)
    John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO, Canadian Frailty Network, talks about the work by the internationally-recognized research network that is focused on improving health care for an aging population. (University Communications)
  • Taking part in Friday's funding announcement were, from left: Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences; Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands; Bettina Hamelin, Vice-President of Research Partnerships, NSERC; John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO, Canadian Frailty Network; Russell Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Frailty Network; and John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Taking part in Friday's funding announcement were, from left: Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences; Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands; Bettina Hamelin, Vice-President of Research Partnerships, NSERC; John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO, Canadian Frailty Network; Russell Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Frailty Network; and John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Bettina Hamelin, Vice-President of Research Partnerships, NSERC, speaks during Friday's announcement of $23.9 million in renewal funding Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. (University Communications)
    Bettina Hamelin, Vice-President of Research Partnerships, NSERC, speaks during Friday's announcement of $23.9 million in renewal funding Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. (University Communications)

An internationally-recognized research network focused on improving health care for an aging population has received renewal funding from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. Launched as an NCE in May 2012, Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) will receive $23.9 million in renewal funding for the next five years, matched by $30 million in contributions from 150 partners

Hosted by Queen’s, CFN is a national initiative to improve the care of older Canadians living with frailty. Its goals are to increase frailty recognition and assessment, support new research and engage frail older people and their caregivers to improve decision making, and mobilize evidence to transform health and social care to meet the needs of the aging population.

“This Queen’s-led Networks of Centres of Excellence demonstrates the importance of the research at Queen’s and is evidence of how knowledge-mobilization can be done effectively and lead to a measurable impact,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University.

For its second term, CFN has prioritized standardizing how frailty is identified and measured in various care settings, continuing to increase evidence on frailty to aid decision making, and mobilizing knowledge to catalyze change in care. Canada is a leader in frailty research but, despite this, the Canadian health care system has lagged behind other jurisdictions in applying what is known about frailty.

“Implementing standardized ways to identify and measure frailty will support comparisons between jurisdictions and identify variations in care, outcomes and healthcare resource utilization,” says John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO, CFN. “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.”

Over the past five years, CFN has had a number of successful outcomes:

  • Pilot study of in-bed cycling as a rehabilitation intervention for older frail patients in the ICU has led to full study.
  • A national partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) and Mount Sinai Hospital implemented elder-friendly models of care in 17 Canadian hospitals and an international hospital, and further collaboration is planned for Term 2.
  • A study testing ICU screening for frailty has been rolled out across Alberta.
  • ICU patients in Alberta are now screened for frailty. Promising feasibility study result has led to volunteer patient navigators for frail rural dwelling seniors being tested across Canada.
  • Testing by home care teams in the province of Quebec examined how a training program for doctors and interprofessional teams can improve the experience of the frail elderly and their families and caregivers in confronting the decision to stay at home or move to a care facility.
  • CFN’s Interdisciplinary Program is the only one in Canada targeting frailty, and nearly 550 young scholars, students and trainees have developed enhanced specialized skills and knowledge to provide the best evidence-based care.

“The unique challenges posed by frailty require a shift in Canadian health policy and planning on a national level,” says Russell Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, CFN. Canada needs frailty assessment standards implemented across care settings; better frailty training for caregivers and healthcare professionals; and funding models to address the needs of older adults living with frailty.”

For more information, visit the website.