I joined the AFN team in January 2016 to support Cohort 2 sites. I was excited, but didn’t really know what to expect. My background is clinical, however for several years I had been involved in leading major transformation programmes.
What felt different about this was not just the scale of the potential benefit for getting the approach right for frailty in older people (which is huge in itself); but the sense of working on something that felt so intuitively the ‘right thing to do…’.
This was reflected at the January 16 launch event, where I was struck by the level of commitment and energy, not just of the small national team, but by the strength of engagement from the sites themselves. Hearing the learning from Cohort 1, and the transformational work they had undertaken was inspiring. There was also the product of that learning; The Frailty Toolkit, which seemed to me to be a genuine example of coproduction between sites, the central team, and reinforced by evidence and best practice. This core document was to provide the framework for the work of cohort 2, and continues to evolve and develop as cohort 2 learning gets fed in and reflected.
In June of this year, the AFN held its first national conference, with 320 delegates. As Caroline Dove, the CEO of NHS Elect said when opening the event; ‘there is no mandate dictating that people came to this, yet we find ourselves here with more than 300 people in the room, and more who wanted to attend. That is a testament to the degree to which frailty resonates across the NHS’.
Cohort 3 has begun, and I look forward with great anticipation to see what future developments will take place.