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Older person with frailty

Research on older patients living with frailty in hospital

People are living longer and many are enjoying healthy lives. However, a significant percentage of older people are particularly vulnerable to even relatively minor changes in their circumstances, and so need particular attention when admitted to a hospital.

Comprehensive Care looks at the concept of ‘frailty’ in older people living in hospital. It brings together NIHR research on what can be done to identify and manage the needs of this group of people and avoid potential problems. With the right support, patients can continue to live well at the end of their hospital stay.

DOI: 10.3310/themedreview-002370 

Comprehensive care themed review

Comprehensive Care - Older people with frailty in hospital

This review covers four key aspects of caring for older people living with frailty in hospital: Assessment; identifying and managing symptoms associated with frailty in hospital; discharge planning; and caring environments.

It features:

  • 33 published studies
  • 20 ongoing research projects
  • Questions to ask about the care of older people with frailty in hospitals


1.8 million

people aged over 60 in England are estimated to be living with frailty, of whom almost half are aged over 80.


of total bed days in hospital are accounted for by people aged over 85.


of people over 70 experienced a reduction in their ability to undertake activities between admission and discharge.

  • I hope that this review will help clinical staff, managers and commissioners to be aware of what we already know, so that practice is based on the best available current evidence and provide a strong foundation for future developments in this most important area.

    Dr Dawn Moody
    Associate National Clinical Director (older people), NHS England

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