A symposium at Bournemouth University (BU) brought together healthcare professionals, academics and industry voices to discuss the topic of frailty.
The Centre for Postgraduate Medical Research and Education (CoPMRE) at BU encourages and facilitates collaboration between the NHS and the university.
This was CoPMRE’s sixteenth annual conference, with around 100 people in attendance. It explored the theme of Frailty: Enhancing Lives, covering areas such as the demographic and societal challenges, transition to frailty, and how technology could enhance the lives of the elderly.
Professor Martin Vernon, National Clinical Director for Older People at NHS England, was one of the keynote speakers at the event, talking about the NHS Long Term Plan and its ageing well programme.
He said: “It’s really important because of the ageing population and the need to support many more people to age better and also to meet the needs of people in their communities in a much more proactive way. We’re doing that by bringing together primary care and community services in ways that the NHS has never done before."
He added that it was important to bring together education, research and practice to support and develop the health and social care system.
“We’ve got a huge wealth of evidence already but we need much more, particularly as we bring in new systems and ways of doing things, we need to evaluate things and test them out," he said.
“In terms of education and development, the NHS is largely its workforce – particularly with the care of older people, it is very much about the skills and capabilities of all workers across the sectors, not just health but social care. So I think it’s really important to bring both the research and the educational colleagues to the table on this and bring them forwards on this journey so that we can build a more resilient workforce going forwards.”
The second keynote speaker was Professor Mark Hawley, Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Sheffield, who spoke about how technology could enhance the lives of older people with frailty and enable them to continue living independently for longer.
“I’d like people to get a feel for how technology could enhance the lives of older people and how they might be able to think about the use of technology alongside care by people, which is the most important part in providing services and care for other people," he said.
“There’s an awful lot that’s already available but one of the things that I’m concentrating on in the talk is emerging technologies and what could it look like in the future in terms of new technologies – what things like artificial intelligence and robotics will bring in terms of enhancing the lives of older people.
“Meetings like this are key to sharing information and finding out what’s new – I’ve learnt an awful lot already.”
Other speakers at the day-long event were from organisations including Dorset Healthcare, Poole and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, and the Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), alongside academics from Bournemouth University.
CoPMRE manager Audrey Dixon, who organised the symposium, said: “The conference acts as a platform to showcase what is happening at BU and in Dorset and nationwide to promote wellness and economic benefits. Our aim is to develop a culture of collaborative and multidisciplinary research to drive income, esteem and impact for the benefit of patients.”