Who We Are
In 1986, RGPs were established at Academic Health Sciences Centres in Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa and Toronto. This partnership in education, research and standards of practice is now a key element in the provincial framework to meet the needs of Ontario’s aging population. Today, the network has expanded into a provincial collaborative of eleven RGPs that support specialized geriatric service delivery, capacity building, evaluation, and advocacy toward meeting the health needs of Ontario’s aging population.
RGPs exist to:
- Prevent avoidable Emergency Department use, hospitalization, and alternate level of care and premature institutionalization
- Prevent avoidable decline in high risk seniors with complex medical and psychosocial problems
- Increase functional ability, independence, and quality of life for seniors and their caregivers
- Improve clinical efficiencies in acute care
- Improve patient outcomes
- Enhance capacity of health care providers to assess and treat frail complex high-risk seniors
- Act as an enabler for care coordination
What is Frailty?
The term ‘frail senior’ is used to define people over the age of 65 who show a series of characteristics that make their lives more difficult and increase the likelihood that they will be unable to recover from mild to moderate conditions. In these situations, simple infections may cause more harm, even death compared to an individual of the same age who is healthy. People who are frail are more likely to become disabled, be admitted to the hospital, and have health problems. It is important to note however, that frailty exists on a spectrum. While frailty is often chronic and progressive, it is also dynamic and some patients may be able to improve their frail status.
Some factors that might signal frailty are:
- Over 80 years of age
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Reduced energy and poor endurance
- Slowed performance
- Unintentional weight loss
- Decreased physiological reserve
- Many or complex medical conditions
- Have depression or other long-term medical problems
- A lower ability of independent living
- Impaired mental or cognitive abilities
- Often requiring assistance for daily activities
What Do We Know About Frail Aging?
While there are ongoing studies on frailty, especially as an estimated 11% of those over 65 fall into the category. Frail seniors with complex health problems have unique needs and present specific challenges for accurate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment that cannot be met by specialties that focus on specific organs or a limited range of illnesses. A targeted approach is required for seniors with complex and/or multiple chronic conditions that cross traditional specialty boundaries.
It is this subset of seniors who are at risk of further losses of health and independence and higher use of health care resources that specialized geriatric services are intended to serve. The goal of specialized geriatric services is to reduce the burden of disability by identifying and treating reversible conditions, recommending patient-centered care and managing multiple co-existing conditions.