Association of Mental Health Providers

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Early ‘Frailty’ and Mental Health Focus Group

As members of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, The Association is holding a focus group on Wednesday 13 November, 10-12pm to engage with people with mental illness and frailty.

For the project, we are primarily relying on the NHS definition of frailty –

“Frailty is where someone is less able to cope and recover from accidents, physical illness or other stressful events. It should be treated as a long term condition throughout adult life. This means starting with prevention and early identification of frailty and supporting people appropriately on the basis of their needs through to the end of their life.”

A scoping review, undertaken in partnership with and led by Friends, Families, and Travellers, has identified evidence that many people would find the term frailty offensive or stigmatising, and generally conceptualise it in very different terms to healthcare professionals. A qualitative Age UK study looking at language and perceptions of frailty found that older adults perceive frailty as irreversible and associated with a significant deterioration in wellbeing. This differs from the medical conception of frailty, which emphasises that it is preventable, manageable and potentially reversible.

In order to articulate the concept of frailty to participants in the focus groups, we propose approaching the topic of frailty as a “loss of resilience”. Frailty is also correlated with multi-morbidity and the increased likelihood of acquiring additional illnesses. We therefore suggest describing the experience of frailty as follows –

“Sometimes we take longer to recover from illness than others. We may lose weight, feel more tired or weak, and be more likely to pick up other illnesses and infections. We may walk slower, feel less independent, and may require more support with day to day tasks”

There will be two stages to the focus group – a journey mapping exercise, which will ask participants to describe a recent experience upon noticing a health issue and the steps taken from there, and a second stage which will be a discussion around assets to support resilience and prevent ‘frailty’.

All participants will receive a gift voucher for their time and participation. 

If you would like to learn more or you or someone you know would like to participate, please contact