Working within the AFN - Simon Griffiths, Associate for the Acute Frailty Network

As I start working with Cohort 3 teams and talk to Cohort 2 colleagues about their achievements and hopes for the future, I am bowled over by everyone’s commitment and creativity in sometimes very difficult circumstances. A huge amount has been achieved despite huge operational pressures and financial difficulties in health and social care.

The one thing which all 3 cohorts have picked as the prime benefit of the network, has been to increase the profile and focus given to frail people using acute services. The achievements may prove difficult to demonstrate in a dashboard, but a team of people has come together in a way they probably haven’t before and made a real difference to an often forgotten group of people and their families and carers.

The other thing which strikes me after two and a bit cohorts is that sites who benefit most from the AFN are those who put the most into it and demand the most from it. The 10 Principles in the AFN Toolkit provide some really useful pointers. For Cohort 3 sites, I’d particularly highlight the following ingredients for project success:
• Committed and visible clinical, managerial and executive leadership;
• Clear clinically led project aims supported by effective infrastructure including regular meetings and project support;
• Measurement / analyst capacity focused on frailty and the agreed project;
• Full use of the AFN’s resources, be it talking to other sites, accessing AFN materials on the web site, participating in the events and webinars, regularly sharing ideas and progress with AFN colleagues.

So on the eve of the Cohort 2’s final event, thank you so much for being great to work with. I hope we will keep in touch and that the great changes you’ve made will benefit even more people in future. To Cohort 3, I’m already impressed with the plans and progress. Here’s to raising the profile of frailty services even more and having some great patient stories to tell in a year’s time.

And of course, Happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2017, to everyone.

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