The Statewide General Medicine – Statewide Older Person’s Health Clinical Networks held a successful forum on Friday 14 June 2019 at The Edge Auditorium, State Library, Brisbane Cultural Precinct. It was the second time the two Networks have held a combined forum with the first successful event in Townsville in 2017.
There were more than 100 people who attended the event in person and 101 people who attended via webinar. The webinar attendants included three people from Japan, 30 from the USA, and 68 from throughout Australia. With the assistance of digital technology, participants were able to pose questions and comments to speakers throughout the day which gave network members from throughout the state the opportunity to participate.
The theme of the forum was “Frailty” a word which is best defined as: “A state of increased vulnerability, associated with but distinct from increasing age and multi-morbidity, resulting in disproportionate adverse health outcomes following a stressor”.
The aim of the forum was to inform participants about frailty and the Current State of Play; New Frontiers and Work in Progress. During the Co-Chairs’ opening remarks, they asked attendees to text a response to their question “How much knowledge do you think you have about frailty?”. Their intention was to test whether knowledge levels would increase by the end of the day and when participants were again asked to text a response to a final question “How much knowledge do you think you have now about frailty?”.
Results from the two polls reveal that at the start of the day only 14% of participants responded that they had excellent knowledge with 26% stating they had good knowledge. However, by the end of the day knowledge levels had increased to 29% of the audience saying they had excellent knowledge and 67% texting they had good knowledge.
The forum was officially opened by Professor Keith McNeil, Assistant Deputy Director-General and Chief Clinical Information Officer, Clinical Excellence Queensland, who invited everyone to take the opportunity to network with their peers and colleagues and talk about how we can all improve the care of the frail elderly.
There were thirteen guest speakers presenting on different aspects of frailty with the keynote speaker in session one being Professor Ruth Hubbard. Ruth is a Professor in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Queensland, Consultant Geriatrician at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and Head of School for PA-Southside Clinical Unit. She is also a member of the Statewide Older Person’s Health Clinical Network Steering Committee. Professor Hubbard posed a question to the audience “What do physicians need to know about assessing frailty, and why?” Ruth has published widely on the inflammatory aetiology of frailty, the difficulties of measuring frailty in clinical practice and the relationships between frailty and obesity, smoking, socioeconomic status and exercise. Based on the impact of her publications, she is currently ranked number 3 in a list of the world’s leading experts in frail elderly research.
The keynote speaker for the second session of the forum was Professor David Le Couteur, from the University of Sydney, whose presentation was on “The pros and cons of frailty screening”. David is a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Sydney, Scientific Director of the Ageing and Alzheimer’s Institute (Concord Hospital), Director of the Centre for Education and Research on Ageing (University of Sydney), Director of the Biogerontology Laboratory of the ANZAC Research Institute and Senior Staff Specialist Physician in Geriatric Medicine at the Concord RG Hospital in Sydney. He is also a recipient of an AO, (Officer of the Order of Australia) for distinguished service to medicine as a clinical pharmacologist and geriatrician, particularly through a range of advisory roles and academic research activities.
The afternoon sessions commenced with an overview of the Queensland Health Frail Older Person’s Health Collaborative which was presented by Laureen Hines, A/Director, Statewide Access Team, Healthcare Improvement Unit, Clinical Excellence Division. Laureen was the first of five speakers to speak about the Minister’s priorities and what projects are being undertaken to improve the life of the frail elderly.