Session on Frailty at Good Neighbours

Talk on  Frailty at Good Neighbours

At the Good Neighbours coffee morning on Thurs July 24th 2014.  Ken Rockwood, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada,  came to give a talk about frailty. He was assisted by his colleague Judah Goldstein, a paramedic and PhD Student.

frailty 03


Professor Rockwood and Judah Goldstein about to give their talk

Frailty describes the declines in health and function as you get older with associated weakness, slowing, decreased energy, lower activity, and, when severe, unintended weight loss.

This talk on Frailty came about because Professor Rockwood is involved in a Manchester University research project called fRaill,(Frailty, Resilience And Inequality in Later Life) and Good Neighbours are represented on the Advisory Board of this study. Ken is a renowned authority on frailty being the originator of the widely used Rockwood Clinical Frailty Scale. This uses various measures to grade individuals (usually older people)  on a scale of 1 to 9, with one being ‘very fit’ and 9 ‘terminally ill’ (see below)

frailty scale smaller


What he came to Good Neighbours for was to try out a new pictorial scale of frailty where older people or their care givers could assess their own level of frailty by choosing the picture that most typifies their normal state across a range of 11 activities. A sample of these is given below. Take’medication’ as an example, if you took no medicines you would tick the first box, if you took a lot every day you may tick the 4th or 5th picture down

social etc


Professor Rockwood explained this and then distributed the picture sheets to all the people there. On each table someone would help explain the categories. A short clip of Professor Rockwood talking to the Good Neighbours members can be viewed here:

This was the first trial of this pictorial approach to assessing frailty, so the feedback Professor Rockwood will get from this and other trials will lead to the index’s revision and improvement. He and Judah will copme back later this year to give feedback on the results of this session. The idea is that if it proves to be workable and robust, it would be used in circumstances such as visits to Accident and Emergency when the older person/carer could fill it in to give the medics some idea of where on the scale of frailty the person was before the catastrophic event that led to them being in A&E

frailty 01


Professor Rockwood explains how to use the pictorial questionnaire

frailty 02

Thinking about how to fill in the questionnaire

frailty 04frailty 06

frailty 04