Understanding the lives of people with Frailty’ was published in March 2014. The report was commissioned by Age UK, with Ipsos Mori carrying out the research. The main aim of the report was to help give policy makers a clear, up-to-date understanding of the lives and needs of people living with frailty.

The foreword of the report establishes some clear principles about frailty, as summarised below:

  • Frailty is something a person lives with, not what they are;
  • Frailty is not inevitable or irreversible, and yet currently the services designed for it seem to start from this viewpoint;
  • Frailty and old age are not the same thing. Many older people are not frail, and frailty affects many people who are considered young.

The research for the report was carried out using the following methods:

  • Five filmed ethnographic interviews;
  • Three ‘discovery visits’ to older people’s day-centres where informal focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with people attending the centres;
  • Five follow-up in-depth interviews with participants who had consented to be contacted again.

Ten case studies were chosen to be the focus of the report. These provide qualitative ‘day-to-day living’ data and highlight the potential future needs that people living with frailty will have.

The findings are presented through five thematic chapters:

  • Acknowledging Frailty
  • Independence and Control
  • Support and Assets
  • Loneliness and Isolation
  • Adapting to Life Changes

Many of the conclusions were common to other research and reports into frailty, such as:

  • Differences in the definition and meaning of frailty between the caring professions and the public;
  • The importance of support services being there to enable people to retain some independence rather than to simply do everything for them;
  • The need for services to be personalised, holistic and preventative, and the increasing importance of assistive technology in helping to achieve these objectives;
  • The importance of everyday company and conversation, especially for those with mobility issues who were unable to leave the house;
  • For a person living with frailty, even small events can signify a steep change in the status quo.

The report’s implications for policy makers and recommendations are grouped into three areas defined as ‘core objectives’ for supporting people living with frailty:

  • Maximising Capacity and Capability;
  • Personalising Care Goals;
  • Managing Risk.

Full Report

Full report

Useful links:
Visit the Age UK website for care professionals