When the Frailty Risk Score is known there is an opportunity to manage clinical care in a more proactive manner because the risk of adverse outcomes is now known and before they occur we all want to put measures in place to prevent them from occurring. As the Frailty Risk Score increases so does the risk for the bad outcomes we want to avoid. These outcomes, weight loss, skin breakdown, decline in ADL ability, increase in cognitive impairment, etc., cause discomfort for the patient and impact the quality of their lives. These are also the outcomes monitored by CMS and often considered at first glance to be the result of poor care. That will be what the family thinks too unless we have communicated with them as soon as the degree of frailty is known. They need to know the degree of risk present for their loved one and deserve an explanation of how that might impact recovery and rehabilitation. This conversation is important not only for their information but to build trust and rapport with the professionals, to assure them that every measure will be taken to prevent bad outcomes, to support their advanced care planning decisions, and finally to prevent them from being surprised if their loved one does not recover quickly or return to their pre-illness baseline. When caught off guard, we tend to look for someone to blame but if an adverse outcome occurs in a very frail patient we want the family to know that it was a possibility as a result of frailty alone rather than from poor care.
Communication Builds Trust and Improves Satisfaction