A new Frailty Unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital has opened as part of MTW’s commitment to providing high standards of care for older patients.

The new unit, which is equipped to look after 10 patients, brings together experts from a range of clinical teams, to offer patient-centred care and rapid intervention from the point of arrival in the Emergency Department, in a specially designed environment.

Frailty Unit patients are reviewed and supported by a senior geriatrician, nursing, therapy, pharmacy and Integrated Discharge Team (IDT) members. The multi-disciplinary team rapidly assess, treat and, where appropriate, safely discharge patients, providing individualised and seamless care between acute and community settings. Anyone not suitable for discharge is transferred to a short stay bed on another ward and then discharged appropriately.

The decision to create the unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital follows the successful implementation of a Frailty Unit at Maidstone Hospital in June last year.

Associate Director of Nursing, Sally Foy said: “Acute Frailty Units have been proven to provide the best quality of care for older patients. By focusing on bringing together the right resources and a range of clinicians we have seen excellent results, providing high standards of care as well as improved collaboration with families, a great staff experience and a reduction in the number of long stay patients in hospital.”

The Chaucer Acute Frailty Unit (CAFU) at Maidstone Hospital offers 11 assessment spaces and 14 short-stay inpatient beds. The unit sees up to 12 patients every day, with 35% of these being discharged home with personalised support, helping to prevent further hospital admissions. The pathway promotes national best practice and supports rapid turnover and admission avoidance, where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Since the unit has been in place, the Family and Friends survey results show that the staff, care and service are all rated highly.

The feedback for the Chaucer Acute Frailty Unit (CAFU) has been extremely positive and comments include:

• “All the staff were professional, caring and compassionate. Nothing was too much trouble and they made every effort to ensure that that my stay was a good experience”
• “The attention was good that the staff gave when asked any questions about my illness”.
• “Most genuine people I have ever met. Treated really well as part of the family”
• “Nurses very kind. Doctor very patient and took time to explain everything”

Sally added: “Our staff are committed to making sure that older patients are always given the most appropriate care and treatment, that they are respected, listened to and supported at all times.”
This service improvement is only the beginning of an important change in the way acute hospital care supports these patients. The Acute Frailty Unit will continue to develop links with community service providers to ensure that patients benefit from services traditionally delivered in a hospital environment, whilst remaining in their own home. These community services will also work in partnership with the hospital to ensure that frail patients only remain in hospital when absolutely necessary and, when fit to do so, return to their home seamlessly and without delay.
Note to editors
An Acute Frailty Unit offers a multidisciplinary approach to care for older hospitalised patients with four key elements:

– specially designed environment
– patient-centred care
– focus on planning for discharge
– review of medical care by a multidisciplinary team

Patients who are aged 75 and over, and who meet national criteria for frailty, will use the pathway.