Global Challenges, Territorial Answers: the Future of Health in Europe - Event organised by EUREGHA on behalf of the Committee of the Region's Interregional Group on Health and Well-being

EUREGHA Secretariat attended the SUNFRAIL Transnational Workshop in Bologna on 22 mars. SUNFRAIL is a project co-funded by the EU Health Programme 2014-2020 that involves 11 partners from six EU Member States. The project aims at improving the identification prevention and management of frailty and care of multimorbidity in community dwelling persons (over 65) of loco-regional settings of EU countries. SUNFRAIL kicked off in May 2015 and will run for 30 months.

Frailty, sometimes broadly defined as an increased vulnerability to stressors, is a condition associated with ageing and which is in various ways linked with the existence or emergence of chronic diseases and multimorbidity. Given the EU’s growing ageing population and the pressure on health and social care systems, frailty has emerged as a topic on the EU health policy agenda.

Experts from the project partner organisations, as well as externally invited speakers, gathered for the full-day event to discuss the scientific definitions and models of frailty and multimorbidity as well as how the scientific knowledge can be appropriately translated into effective policy responses in loco-regional settings.

During the first session, experts discussed different prevailing definitions and assessment tools of frailty and pre-frailty, ranging from models primarily understanding frailty as a biophysical condition to broader definitions also including psychological and social factors.

This was followed by a session on the creation of synergies between the SUNFRAIL project and other similar European initiatives and projects, such as the EIP-AHA, Joint Action CHRODIS, FRAILCLINIC, FRAILTOOLS and the Simpathy project.

The last session was devoted to group discussions on how to develop an operational response to frailty and multimorbidity and on good practices and tools for the identification of frailty and multimorbidity.

Some of the main points and conclusions from the workshop were:

  • Detecting and managing frailty to be able to activate preventative measures for avoidable disabilities and hospitalisations may increase cost-efficiency of health systems.
  • A holistic understanding of frailty is desirable, incorporating not only physical variables, but also taking into account psychological and social signs and determinants.
  • Due to the abundance of models and tools on frailty, focus should be put on assessing and sorting among them, rather than inventing a new model from zero.
  • It is important to raise awareness about age-related conditions among both policy-makers, health authorities, and the general population.
  • Providing training in frailty recognition to health- and social care staff is a crucial factor and an important step in a better response to frailty