The role of the registered nurse in supporting frailty in care homes
People in nursing and residential homes are more likely to suffer frailty. Registered nurses are a crucial component of the care delivery service and can offer support to patients who have complex care needs and comorbidities and are at risk of unplanned admissions to secondary care. This article explores frailty and the role of the nurse in assessing for frailty. Three aspects of patient care—nutrition status, polypharmacy and exercise and cognitive function—are discussed as areas where nurses can target their interventions in order to support those considered as frail, aiming to reduce the impact of frailty and negative health outcomes.
Nurses need education in managing patients with frailty in care homes to equip them for the NHS Long Term Plan (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2019). Many nurses have contact with frail residents in care homes as part of their routine activity. The term ‘care home’ includes homes with and without nursing provision (British Geriatrics Society (BGS), 2016). The role of nurses caring for frail patients in care homes is important due to patients' complex care needs, comorbidities, long-term conditions, disability and polypharmacy.
When nurses have contact with patients in care homes, often for routine activity such as wound care, medication administration or continence management, nurses can use this as an opportunity for an assessment of the patient for frailty.
‘Any interaction between an older person and a health or social care professional should include an assessment which helps to identify if the individual has frailty.’
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